In passing – boxer Vernon Forrest

Please see this excellent piece from Kevin Blackistone on the life of champion boxer Vernon Forrest. Vernon was killed last week in an attempted car jacking last week in Atlanta. The boxing and broader sports and charitable communities mourn his passing. You can also see a wonderful video about Vernon’s efforts at


The truth is that, often times, those of us in this business find ourselves struggling to say only good things about a recently deceased personality whose acts in life demanded that we make him or her known to the public. With Vernon Forrest, it seemed to be the opposite.

It is not manufactured hyperbole for the purpose of being polite that you are hearing and reading such wonderful things about Forrest, a three-time boxing champ who we learned Sunday was fatally shot Saturday night in a carjacking attempt in Atlanta. A more famous Atlanta fighter, Evander Holyfield, may be most well-known as the Real Deal, but there was absolutely nothing phony about the good guy who was Forrest. As HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, whose network carried many of Forrest’s bouts, told the Associated Press on Sunday of Forrest: “He was one of the most gracious and charitable fighters in boxing and he will be missed by the entire boxing community and all of his friends at HBO.”

It was the mid-’90s when Forrest had his epiphany. He was closing in on 20 professional fights without a loss but didn’t have much bank or accolades to show for it. A native of Augusta, Ga., Forrest had planned to jumpstart his pro career in 1992 like Oscar De La Hoya with an Olympic gold medal from the Barcelona Games, but he was easily upset in his opening match and said afterward that he’d been stricken with food poisoning.

Nonetheless, Forrest scrapped together around $80,000 with some other easily touched people, like his hip-hop video friend Ki Toy Johnson, and formed a company called Destiny’s Child Inc. Their idea: to provide long-term care to people like the autistic child whose shoestrings he helped tie.

Forrest, who studied business administration at Northern Michigan University, and his partners purchased a suburban Atlanta home in 1996 and retrofitted it for the demands of their business. Destiny’s Child, which took in patients from institutions or families that were no longer able to care for them, didn’t get any cheaper to finance than it was to start up. This was healthcare, after all, the very industry President Obama and many others are saying is too costly to meet the needs of everyone who should have it and, as a result, needs to be reformed. Forrest was experiencing all of that.