Jacksonville boy says George Floyd’s dying call for mother inspired viral video

The 12-year-old wrote the song, ‘I Want to Live’

An image from Keedron Bryant's Instagram page shows the video has been viewed more than 2,660,610 million times. (Instagram)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Protests erupting across the country are being called the ‘I Can’t Breathe’ protests. The phrase was among George Floyd’s last words.

Video shows Floyd called those words out as an officer dug a knee into his neck for more than 8 minutes. Protesters and rioters alike have donned signs, t-shirts, and city property with the words I Can’t Breathe, but those aren’t the only words from George Floyd that will leave a lasting impact.

The recording of the song ‘I Just Want to Live’ by 12-year-old Jacksonville boy Keedron Bryant was inspired by Floyd’s dying call for his mother.

In the video showing George Floyd’s fatal arrest, a bystander is heard saying, “Get up and get in the car man."

Floyd while lying on the ground says, “I will.” The bystander says again, “Get up and get in the car man.” Floyd says, “I will. I can’t move." The bystander encourages Floyd into the police vehicle again, but the officer doesn’t release his restraint of Floyd. When after a few seconds longer, the officer doesn’t move Floyd cries and says, “Mama. Mama."

Bryant’s mother said she allowed Keedron to watch the video. As the 12-year-old looked on, Bryant’s mother said when Keedron heard the grown man call out for his mother, she said Keedron started praying.

“I went upstairs and I prayed over it. I prayed and then I came back and I said, ‘I’m ready to record it,” he said referring to his song.

The recording was posted in a video on Instagram. It’s now been viewed more than 2.6 million times. He also performed the song at Elevate Life Church in Oakleaf:

Several celebrities shared the song, including LeBron James, Victoria Beckham, Janet Jackson, Eva Longoria, David Oyelow, Kandi Burrus, and former President Barack Obama.

Keedron said it was the latter that means the most.

“That’s our first black president. He supported me. He actually said my name, and he gave me some words of encouragement in my post. He said I was powerful and I really thank him for saying that,” he said.

In his song, Bryant sings about how he sees black men being killed every day. Bryant’s song nearly doubles as a prayer as he sings,

"I just want to live. God, protect me, I just want to live,” the song goes.

While Keedron admitted, going viral was ‘really exciting,' recording the song was an emotional experience.

“I felt really sad when I sung it because it’s unfair that we can't go out and enjoy life. Like the song says-- I just want to live,” he said.

Keedron said he knows sharing inspiration and his voice is his life-calling and plans to keep singing and keep sharing.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.