Mixed Martial Arts icon Kimbo Slice, who was born Kevin Ferguson, has died at the age of 42.
His death came only a few hours after reports began to circulate on Monday night that the fighter had been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons.
Shortly before midnight, a statement was released by Scott Coker, president of Bellator MMA.
The statement said,
We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family. 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.
Ariel Helwani, widely regarded as the most connected and powerful journalist in the world of MMA posted this tribute on Instagram.
The caption reads,
I was texting with Kimbo Slice recently. At the end of our conversation he sent me this picture. He was one of my very first interviews and was so very kind to me every step of the way. Can't believe one of the most important and recognizable faces in the history of this great sport is no longer with us. Rest in peace, Ferg. Thank you for everything. You lived the American Dream and did it your way. We will miss you.
Kimbo Slice became an internet sensation as a backyard brawler before becoming a professional mixed martial artist in 2007. He competed in the main event of the first MMA card to be broadcast on network television, a contest which Slice won.