James Joseph Brown was born in Elko, South Carolina on May 3,
1933. His parents were Susie and Joe Gardner Brown His father changed
his name to Brown after Mattie Brown who raised him. Brown and his
family lived in extreme poverty. When Brown was two years old, his
parents separated after his mother left his father for another man.
After his mother abandoned the family, Brown continued to live with his
father and his live-in girlfriends until he was six years old. After
that time, Brown and his father moved to Augusta, Georgia, and his
father sent him to live with an aunt who ran a house of prostitution.
Even though Brown lived with relatives, he spent long stretches of time
on his own, hanging out on the streets and hustling to get by. He
dropped out of shcool in the seventh grade. He was married four times.
On December 25, 2006, Brown died from congestive heart failure resulting
from complications of pneumonia, with his agent Frank Copsidas and his
friend Charles Bobbit at his bedside. According to Bobbit, Brown uttered
"I'm going away tonight", and then Brown took three long,
quiet breaths before passing away.
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