James Nathaniel Brown (February 17, 1936 – May 18, 2023) was an American football fullback, civil rights activist, and actor. He played for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965. Considered to be one of the greatest running backs of all time, as well as one of the greatest players in NFL history, Brown was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he was in the league, was recognized as the AP NFL Most Valuable Player three times, and won an NFL championship with the Browns in 1964. He led the league in rushing yards in eight out of his nine seasons, and by the time he retired, he held most major rushing records. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.
Brown died of natural causes, at the age of 87 on May 18, 2023, at his home in Los Angeles. He died with his wife by his side. Barack Obama, the 44th president and the first Black president of the United States, wrote, “I was too young to remember Jim Brown’s playing days, but I knew his legacy. One of the greatest football players ever, he was also an actor and activist – speaking out on civil rights, and pushing other black athletes to do the same.”