DAVID GREENE, HOST:
All right, so I want to introduce you to a few other people who knew George Floyd. We met them last night just before sunset at the home of DJD. He walked us into his recording studio. It's a dark room. There are comfy leather chairs. There's sound mixers all over the place. And there's a TV playing nonstop news about George Floyd, a friend who hung out here all the time.
Is it hard to watch?
DJD: Yeah, very hard, very hard. And so most of the time, that was Floyd's seat right there, sitting over there right by the wall. And I'm talking about a lot of long talks, a lot of, you know - it's crazy, and to see one of your best friends on TV all day long. And so, like, here - like, a clip of...
GREENE: He hit play on a video of him and Floyd in this room just talking about everything. They used to make music in here together as well. DJD would get Floyd talking and mix his voice over tracks.
DJD: Just, you know, just imagine somebody you have these long talks with, you have drinks with, that you classify like one of your brothers - no longer here. And every time you look on TV, he's just another person to everybody else, and it's like a movement to everybody else. But this a friend to me, you know? So I don't see George Floyd up there. I see Big Floyd. I see my homeboy, you know? And like I say, like the clip I showed you, we were like brothers, you know?
GREENE: That was, like, every day?
DJD: Yeah, that's how we are all the time.
GREENE: DJD's brother Ortierre came in and sat down in Floyd's chair. Ortierre and Floyd played football together at Yates High School.
You actually went to high school with Floyd?
ORTIERRE LAWSON: Yes. We were on the same team together. I was the starting center and a 17 (ph) little linebacker. I was a sophomore. He was a senior. Jack Yates High School probably has the strongest alumni base in the country.
DJD: In the world.
O LAWSON: It might be in the world, too, OK, but most definitely, it's the strongest in the state. It may be the strongest in the country or in the world. So Floyd was like a big brother to me, OK? You want to know what type of player Floyd was?
O LAWSON: Floyd was a unique player. When I say unique, he's 6"6' and can run. When you're that tall, you normally can't run. And he had hands. And when he needed to get into your tail, he got into your tail. Whenever there was a go-to play - we had a dynamite running back by the name of Jerald Moore (ph), and people would try to lock down on him. And whenever we needed a play, coach would call this play called Be Looking. That's where we faked the ball to Jerald Moore and we throw it to our big 6"6' tight end. And Floyd would go up, and he would catch. There were - no matter how big you was, you was not going to - you could not jump Floyd. Floyd was a basketball player. And he was the first tight end I ever seen to use basketball skills.
Now, practice was so doggone hard that coach didn't allow us to have water. And we would be thirsty. And the way we would get through it, a hard (unintelligible) practice, is someone like Floyd would just bust out singing. And when he bust out singing, the whole team would start singing. It may be something simple as coach called the kickoff team to come on the field. And you will hear Floyd say, (singing) kickoff team, kickoff team. And then the rest of the team will start saying, (singing) kickoff team, off team. So there's something so simple like that. Or it may be something where he goes into something like a rap that I won't be able to repeat 'cause I can't rap (laughter). So Floyd was the type of person that would try to uplift you, but he was real about it.
GREENE: By this point, a third brother, Terai (ph), had joined us in the room. He was leaning against a wall behind me listening. And then he decided to join in. Terai is 11 years younger than Floyd, and Floyd would keep an eye on him.
TERAI LAWSON: I got a bunch of memories of Floyd. Man, Floyd - Floyd basically like a big brother, man. Like, I call Floyd sometimes and ask for some advice. More like I will always see him - mysteriously see him in the stands watching me play basketball or watching me play football all the way from middle school, all the way through high school. So I know there was one of the guys that always supported me, I mean, like, all the way to when I played my college ball at Stephen F. Austin State University 2002 through 2005. I would come back, and he would always ask, man, how's it going, little bro? Man, last thing he'd always tell me is that I love you. You know, you don't get too many people these days to tell you that they love you and truly mean it. And, you know, that's why this guy, he will always have a special place in my heart.
GREENE: This conversation last night in Houston was about remembering a friend. But these men also wanted people to understand what it is like to be a black man in America today.
T LAWSON: Right now, I'm still feeling some type of way. And it's not only because my big brother lost his life. It's because of the situation. I had a guy at work the other day, one of my close partners, after work, he came and asked me - he's half white, half Hispanic. He looked me dead in my eyes, and he said, do you think all white people hate you? My answer was I think most of them do because of my situation. I've been through so much in my 35 years of living in East Texas, and I've seen so much happen to my people. Well, I had to tell him the truth. And deep down inside, I know it hurt him. And I know he's one of the ones that really care for me. See, those are the type of conversations that we need to have.
O LAWSON: No one has ever walked in a black man's shoes. No one has ever walked in anyone shoes. But a black man's footsteps are hard. I am an ordained minister. I am educated. And I'm an ex all-American footballer. If all of us were to walk in the store right now, you know they going to look at me first. Just about every black man I know have to watch their back. And most people of other races - even of our own race, the other genders - try to tell us what we feeling and what we see. And I think we as a country, we as a nation, need to understand and respect - I think this is what Terai was getting at - respect the fact that you have not walked in these shoes, so you do not know our walk. But you can treat me as a human being. That's the difference.
GREENE: The Lawson brothers, Ortierre, Terai and DJD, all friends of the late George Floyd.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.