George Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the US, with demonstrators desperately calling for an end to police violence.

Mr Floyd was an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as he told them “I can’t breathe”. He moved to Minneapolis after being released from prison and was known as a “gentle giant” who was trying to turn his life around.

The 46-year-old was born in North Carolina and lived in Houston, Texas, when he was younger but moved to Minneapolis several years ago to find work, according to his lifelong friend, Christopher Harris.

He was known to loved ones as “Big Floyd” and was the father to a six-year-old daughter who lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington.

Ms Washington told the Houston Chronicle he was a good father while they were raising their daughter, Gianna, together.

He also left behind a girlfriend, Courteney Ross, who said she was “heartbroken” over his death.

Mr Floyd was a talented athlete who particularly excelled in football and basketball at school.

One of Mr Floyd’s former classmates, Donnell Cooper, said he had a “quiet personality but a gentle spirit”.

According to Ms Washington, he did not finish school and began making music with a hip-hop group called the Screwed Up Click.

After he struggled to find work in Houston, he left the city for Minneapolis.

There, he worked two jobs, one driving trucks and another as a security guard at Latin American restaurant Conga Latin Bistro.

A Conga customer, Jessi Zendejas, said in a Facebook post that Mr Floyd “loved his hugs from his regulars”, according to the Star Tribune.

“[He] would be mad if you didn’t stop to greet him because he honestly loved seeing everyone and watching everyone have fun,” she said.

In a post on a GoFundMe page, Mr Floyd’s sister, Bridgett, said he would “give you the shirt off his back”.

His friend, Oscar Smallwood, wrote on Facebook: “The gentle giant has gained his wings, didn’t get that chance to say I Love you!”

According to court documents, Mr Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a “home invasion”. He was sentenced to five years in prison after a plea deal in 2009.

In a recent video on social media, he spoke out against gun violence, saying: “Our young generation is clearly lost”.

On Monday, he was pinned to the ground by police officer Derek Chauvin while being arrested for allegedly using a fake $20 note in a shop.

Source: BBC Sky