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Rick “Rocky” Lockridge, former super feather-weight boxing champion and the man who inspired the viral “Best Cry Ever” meme, died Thursday due to complications from pneumonia and a series of strokes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“He had a good heart, and he brought himself back up from the bottom,” Perry Dawes, a friend and former sparring partner, told the Inquirer.
Lockridge was born on Jan. 10, 1959, and began boxing as a teenager. He became the world super feather-weight champion in 1984 and won 44 of his 53 fights as a professional boxer. He beat then-undefeated Roger Mayweather in 98 seconds during the first round of their fight.
After retiring in 1991, Lockridge fell on hard times. He separated from his wife and became addicted to cocaine. He suffered a stroke and, due to his addiction and medical bills, was struggling financially by 2009.
But things turned around for the champ after he appeared on the A&E reality show Intervention. Following an emotional moment with his sons, Lockridge vowed to get sober. It was during this interaction that he broke down wailing in tears. That moment became known as the “Best Cry Ever.”
The raw emotion captured people’s imagination and quickly became a meme.
— AJ COLORES 📸 #AVCULT (@AJColores) April 29, 2016
Family, fans, and friends have been expressing their own grief online after learning of the boxer’s death—with many using his famous meme.
It is with great pain but a whole ❤️ that I tell you family and friends that my father Ricky Lockridge aka Rocky Lockridge 🥊 has passed away. All he wanted was to be in the comfort of his home with friends/ family. God has called him to walk through the gates of heaven 🕊 🕊 pic.twitter.com/O6OgIXubmS
— Ricky Lockridge 6-12 💼 (@locktwin) February 7, 2019
— I Hate Steve Harvey (@Shijones) February 8, 2019
Rocky Lockridge in his championship days, KO mag June 85. RIP. pic.twitter.com/dQvHmSiE48
— Chris Williamson (@chrisrobwill) February 7, 2019
Former boxing champ Rocky Lockridge who later had the most famous appearance on the show "Intervention" has passed away at age 60. Rocky died Thursday morning from complications from a stroke he suffered a while back.
— lovelyti (@lovelyti) February 7, 2019
— cesar 👾 (@LaidiesmanVega) February 8, 2019
My reaction to finding out the guy in this video died: https://t.co/y8r1yoAehY
— CHEEZUS (@Cheeze_man) February 8, 2019
Rocky Lockridge seemed to be on TV every month in the 1980s. He gave Julio Cesar Chavez a tough night and was robbed against Wilfredo Gomez. A few points here or there, and Lockridge would be a HOF certainty. RIP.https://t.co/0RltFPd1UQ
— The Cruelest Sport (@cruelestsport) February 7, 2019
#365FightChallenge – Day 38
Today we're paying tribute to the late Rocky Lockridge by looking back at Rocky Lockridge Vs Tony Lopez 1
— Off the Hook Boxing (@othboxing) February 8, 2019
RIP Rocky Lockridge, you might be a meme right now but you will always be a boxing legend pic.twitter.com/HGNQWH3WzD
— Jason (@FaustBC) February 8, 2019
Lockridge kept his pledge to his sons and stayed sober until his death.
“He made up his mind that he was going to conquer his addictions,” said Jacquie Richardson of the Retired Boxers Foundation, per the Inquirer. “He got his own apartment. He carried on a life drug-free.”
Richardson added that a memorial is being planned for Lockridge and that the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame has offered to pay for his funeral expenses.
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David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.