Kimbo Slice passes away at 42

[Brett Costello / The Daily Telegraph]

[Brett Costello / The Daily Telegraph]

Kevin Ferguson, better known as "Kimbo Slice," passed away at the age of 42 on Monday evening around 7:30pm ET. An initial report broke on TMZ's website, stating that Slice was hospitalized near his Coral Springs, Florida home. However, at the time there was no indication of his possible condition. Further speculation arose when a fellow friend shared a confirmation of Slice's death on Facebook. However, he would later delete his post. A link to what he shared can be found here. Slice's gym American Top Team officially confirmed his passing on Twitter, along with further articles spread throughout social media. CEO of Bellator MMA Scott Coker also confirmed his passing in a statement for the media: "We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family," Coker said. "One of the most popular MMA fighters ever, Kimbo was a charismatic, larger-than-life personality that transcended the sport. Outside of the cage he was a friendly, gentle giant and a devoted family man. His loss leaves us all with extremely heavy hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ferguson family and all of Kimbo's friends, fans, and teammates." A report from the South Florida Sun Sentinel stated that Kimbo Slice was diagnosed with heart failure and in need of a heart transplant, being admitted to the hospital on June 3rd with complaints of abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. Slice was placed in intensive care on a ventilator, awaiting to be transferred to Cleveland, Ohio to be added on an organ donation list. Trauma and foul play are not suspected to have been a factor in his death. Kevin Ferguson was born on February 8th, 1974 in Nassau, Bahamas. Himself, his mother, and two brothers would later move to Cutler Ridge, Florida, where Ferguson spent most of his childhood. He would then participate in football as a linebacker at Miami Palmetto High School before graduating. Ferguson attended The University of Miami to study criminal justice with an athletic scholarship. After a year and a half of education without playing football, Ferguson would withdrawal from the college. He later tried school at Bethune-Cookman University before flunking out. Following college, Ferguson found himself out on the street, homeless. He was living in his 1987 Pathfinder using bags to keep the rain out, oceans and pools as his bathroom. After spending this period of his life subsequently homeless and surviving the wrath of Hurricane Andrew, Ferguson found himself working in different positions including a limo driver, a strip-club bouncer, and a bodyguard. Each job had Ferguson use his fists when trouble arose to protect those around him. He then joined an unsanctioned street fighting circuit, where two would fight without grappling until one would be unable to stand up. If they made it to the end, the attending audience would chose a winner. People who came recorded the fights of Ferguson, uploading them to the internet. These videos led to Ferguson's name transformation into "Kimbo Slice." The name originated from being called "Kimbo" as a child from his time spent in the Bahamas, and "Slice" from which the Internet fans created. Kimbo Slice would only lose one on-tape street fight against Boston police officer Sean Gannon in 2004. Slice would later begin training out of Freestyle Fighting Academy in Miami, Florida after developing an interest to compete in mixed martial arts. Slice made his amateur MMA debut in June of 2007, taking on former WBO Heavyweight champion and 1988 Olympic boxing gold medalist Ray Mercer. He finished Mercer by submission in the first round. Slice would then make the transition to compete in MMA professionally, beginning with a 3-0 record in EliteXC with knockout wins over Bo Cantrell, Tank Abbott and James Thompson. Slice was then set to fight in October of 2008 against notable Ken Shamrock, known for his earlier year performances in Pancrase and the UFC. Hours before the fight began, Shamrock partook in a sparring session to prepare for Slice. Unfortunately, a cut cut on Shamrock's eyebrow opened, leading the Florida State Boxing Commission to deny him from competing. Seth Petruzelli would become the replacement opponent, holding a 9-4 record at the time. Many fans thought the victory would come easily for Slice. However, the bout would fail to fall in Slice's favor, as he would suffer a first-round 14 second TKO loss to the short-notice replacement Petruzelli. Controversy later sparked in the EliteXC promotion after monetary incentives were given to Petruzelli to strike with Slice on the feet. The promotion would later file for bankruptcy and fully cease operations.
[Rich Schultz / Associated Press]

Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson in May of 2008 [Rich Schultz / Associated Press]

Kimbo Slice would join Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, coached by Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans, after an invitation was given from UFC President Dana White. The 2009 season would feature 16 total heavyweights competing for a contract in the UFC. Slice would go on to be the first pick for Jackson, the second pick overall, out of the 15 possible remaining fighters. In the third episode, he would be matched up with heavy-hitter Roy Nelson from Team Rashad. Despite showing success on the feet with his punches, Slice struggled avoiding the takedowns of Nelson due to his lack of experience. Nelson would finish Slice with strikes at 2:01 of the second round. Sometime after The Ultimate Fighter 10 concluded, Slice began training at the prestigious American Top Team with the likes of Ricardo Liborio and Marcus Silveira. Slice was given another opportunity to compete in the UFC at The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale in December of 2009, earning a unanimous decision victory over Houston Alexander. The fight consisted of Alexander circling the outside of the cage, causing the fans to "boo" from their lack of engagement. Most of Slice's work came in the second round with takedowns, also earning full mount twice within the contest. In May of 2010, Slice would be matched up with Matt Mitrione at UFC 113, both sharing time time together on opposite teams during The Ultimate Fighter 10. Slice would lose his second professional fight, Mitrione scoring a TKO in the second round. Slice was released from the UFC the following day, this being his last appearance in the UFC octagon.
[Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images North America]

Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione in May of 2010 [Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images North America]

After his lackluster performances in the UFC octagon, Slice made the switch to professional boxing in the heavyweight division. He stated, "I feel like a baby all over again. I'm thinking about this at night. I'm going to be a problem in the heavyweight division. I'm going to be coming in with a bad demeanor. I want to see what it's like to break some ribs, break a jaw with one punch." He continued, "This is a career move. I love fighting. I like to knock people the (expletive) out. I love engaging. Maybe some people think I'm crazy." Slice would fight and win seven times, his career starting in August of 2011. Six of his seven wins came by way of knockout, with four coming inside the first round. His last boxing match would come against Shane Tilyard in January of 2013, earning a second round TKO.
[Photo courtesy of Brendan Esposito]

Kimbo Slice vs. Shane Tilyard in January of 2013 [Photo courtesy of Brendan Esposito]

Nearly five years without competing in MMA, it was announced in January of 2015 that Kimbo Slice had been signed to fight in Bellator MMA. One month later, it was announced that Slice was set to headline Bellator 138 against Ken Shamrock. The two were originally expected to meet in EliteXC in October of 2008 before an injury forced Shamrock out of the competition. In a bout said to be staged by many through social media, Slice defeated Shamrock via TKO in the first round. 2.3 million viewers would watch their fight, at the time setting the Spike TV viewership record. Slice would then be matched up at Bellator 149 in February of 2016 with fellow street-fight rival Dhaffir Harris, better known as "DaDa 5000." Both men severely struggled with cardio during the fight, leading to DaDa to collapse in the third round from exhaustion giving Slice the win. However, the result would later be overturned after Slice tested positive in a urine sample for nandrolone, also forcing a $2,500 fine. Despite Slice's fight with DaDa showing poor performance on both ends, their fight would draw 2.5 million viewers, also leading Bellator 149 to be the most average-watched Bellator card in the promotion's history with 1,964,000 viewers in a three hour span. On April 17th of 2016, it was announced by Scott Coker on SportsCenter that Kimbo Slice would face James Thompson in a rematch on July 16th in London, England. This was expected to be the event headliner. Slice's bout with DaDa 5000 would be the final combat sport fight of his career. He leaves behind a 7-0 professional boxing record, and a 5-2 (1 NC) mixed martial arts record.
[Dave Mandel / Sherdog.com]

Kimbo Slice weighing in at Bellator 138 [Dave Mandel / Sherdog.com]

Slice made various acting appearances in films including "Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh" (2008), "Blood and Bone" (2009), and "The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption" (2012). The reaction of his death surprised many, especially with the knowledge that Slice was scheduled to fight at Bellator 158 exactly 40 days from the time of his passing. Those who faced Kimbo Slice at one point in their career responded to his death on Twitter, along with other members of the MMA community.   Slice is survived by his partner, Antoinette Ray, and his six children: Kevin Jr., Kevin II, Kevlar, Kassandra, Kiara, and Kevina. 23-year-old Kevin Ferguson Jr., referred to as "Baby Slice," made his mixed martial arts debut in March of 2016, defeating his opponent via knockout at 1:23 of the first round. Kimbo Slice will forever be remembered by his family, friends, teammates, and combat sport community. May he rest in peace.

                                                               February 8th, 1974 - June 6th, 2016

[Robert Laberge / Getty Images]

[Robert Laberge / Getty Images]

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