The nation has been rocked by the death of George Floyd. But no one will feel that pain of his loss quite as deeply as his own family.
George Floyd’s daughter and her mother, Roxie Washington, are hurting deeply hurting. The two sat down with Good Morning America for an exclusive interview and opened up about the man the world has come to know as a “gentle giant.”
In an emotional interview, 6-year-old Gianna was asked what she wanted the world to know about her dad. “Kinda that I miss him,” she responded. Those simple yet powerful words from a small child are hard to ignore — Gianna will never have her dad by her side.
It’s a pain no child should ever have to experience.
Roxie Washington is grieving, too. She says she’s heartbroken for her daughter, especially because George was a truly committed and wonderful father. “He just wanted her to have the best,” she said. “We were struggling so he did what he had to do as a man and he had to come here [to Minneapolis] to work. And he said I’m going to come back and get y’all.”
There was an outpouring of emotion in the powerful interview. Roxie Washington expressed what an incredible father George was, even talking about how present he was when she gave birth, and afterward. “I mean, that was his baby. He loved his little girl,” she said.
Gianna shared the sentiment, saying that she missed him. She also said she wanted people to know “he played with me.” Roxie echoed that he always enjoyed playing with his daughter. “She didn’t have to play with nobody else,” she said, “because Daddy was gonna play with her all day long.”
Roxie also spoke about finding out that her daughter’s father had died. She heard the devastating news from her niece. Then, she says, she went online and saw the video, but it was too difficult to watch for more than a moment. “I couldn’t believe that somebody was on him like that,” she said through her tears. “And then in that moment, you know, because I loved him so much I wanted to help him or I wish I could’ve been there to help him. And just hearing him begging for his life.”
It’s clear that the loss is devastating to Roxie and her daughter. But Gianna doesn’t yet know why her father died — her mother didn’t quite know how to explain it to her yet. She does know that the world is talking about his death, though, and that it’s had a huge impact.
In a touching new video shared on Instagram, Gianna is seen sitting on the shoulders of her dad’s longtime friend, former NBA star Stephen Jackson. While throwing her arms up as Jackson holds her hands, Gianna declares, “Daddy changed the world!” Stephen also accompanied Roxie and Gianna to the GMA interview.
Stephen said he plans to step in and help the family in the wake of his dear friend’s death. He, too, is grieving the loss. “Why do we have to see her pain? Why do we have to see a daughter getting raised without a father?” he asked.
Roxie also spoke at a press conference on Tuesday. “I want justice for him, ’cause he was good,” she said. “No matter what anybody thinks, he was good. And this is the proof that he was a good man,” she said while looking at her daughter.
At one point in the interview, Gianna spoke up to share what she wanted to be when she grows up. “I wanted to be … a doctor. And take care of people,” she shared sweetly. But Roxie is heartbroken that George will never get to see his daughter live out those dreams. “My heart is broke for my baby. It’s broke,” she said with tears streaming down her face.
Stephen knows he can’t ever replace George Floyd, but he told Roxie that he will be there for all of those moments — that both of them will always have him there to lean on. “I’m going to walk her down the aisle,” he said. “I’m going to be there for her. I’m going to be here to wipe your tears.”
George Floyd’s death has ignited a movement that’s happening not just in the US, but in other countries, too. It can never bring back Gianna’s father, but hopefully his death won’t be in vain, and Gianna’s words will ring true.
Her father has already changed the world — that’s inarguable. But the question on everyone’s mind is, what happens next? Because the world has a way of pausing, and then carrying on. We need real and lasting change that looks like human life being valued equally regardless of race so that no more little girls have to lose their fathers the way that Gianna lost hers.