Kimbo Slice needed a heart transplant before his death

In this May 31, 2008, file photo, Kimbo Slice, right, battles James Thompson of Manchester, England during their EliteXC heavyweight bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
(Rich Schultz / Associated Press)

Kimbo Slice, the mixed martial arts star who died Monday at age 42, had been diagnosed with heart failure and needed a transplant.

Slice, as Coral Springs-based fighter Kevin Ferguson was widely known, was admitted to Northwest Medical Center in Margate on Friday, complaining of severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath and nausea, according to information the hospital reported to the Broward County medical examiner.

Slice was found to have a liver mass and congestive heart failure, and was placed on a ventilator in intensive care, according to the report.


As Slice’s condition declined, doctors advised his family he would need a heart transplant, the report states.

He died at 7:30 p.m. on Monday as doctors were preparing him for transfer to a facility in Cleveland, where he could be placed on an organ donor list.

The report also stated Slice had no history of illicit drug use, and trauma and foul play were not suspected in his death.

Multiple calls to reach Slice’s family were not immediately returned.

NEWSLETTER: Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >>

Slice was scheduled to headline the Bellator 158 fight card in London next month against James Thompson.


Slice became a viral sensation in the early 2000’s for his street-fighting clips on YouTube. Raised in the Miami area, Slice was a strip club bouncer and bodyguard before his MMA career began to take off.

Slice’s most recent fight was on Feb. 19, when he faced Dhafir Harris, known as DaDa 5000, in Bellator 149. Following his third-round TKO victory, Slice was found to have elevated testosterone levels and tested positive for the steroid nandrolone.

For the past seven years, Slice trained at American Top Team, where news of the fighter’s death hit the Coconut Creek gym’s “family” hard.

“This is like losing a brother,” ATT coach and co-founder Marcus “Conan” Silveira said.

Slice trained at ATT four days a week for a couple of hours at a time. Silveira said Slice was always learning, training, “improving himself for the next fight.”

ATT general manager Richie Guerrerio recalled Slice’s first appearance in the gym in 2009, when Slice was near the height of his fame. Known primarily for his street-fighting videos at the time, Slice was initially met with some skepticism by those in the gym, but Guerrerio said those fears quickly dissipated.

MORE: Get our best stories in your Facebook feed >>

“It was one of those oddities,” said Guerrerio. “You see a guy doing these YouTube videos and you’re thinking, ‘Is he legit or not?’ People had their preconceived notions. He came in the gym with a humble attitude and was looking to learn. He wanted to become better and become a mixed martial artist. He was very much embraced.

“He was charismatic and you were drawn to him.”

Slice eventually competed for several promotions, including the UFC and Bellator, and became one of the sport’s most popular figures, attracting large TV audiences and crowds to his growing sport, despite not winning a title and having a record of 5-2.

Even as a pro, Slice’s unique look — at 6-foot-2 and weighing 230 pounds, with his shaved head and long, black beard — enhanced his legend as a destructive backyard brawler.

“We are all shocked and saddened by the devastating and untimely loss of Kimbo Slice, a beloved member of the Bellator family,” Bellator president Scott Coker said in a statement Monday night.

Slice owned a five-bedroom home with a pool in a gated community in western Coral Springs, where he and his family reportedly lived a quiet life. The Bahamian native, who moved to South Florida as a child, was known for attending his children’s high school sports events and was often seen around town in local restaurants and elsewhere. Numerous acquaintances said Slice didn’t live an ostentatious lifestyle; he was seen as low-key and often posed with fans and neighbors for photos.

Recently married, Slice is survived by his wife and six children; he often credited his MMA career for allowing him to send his kids to college.

One of his three sons, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson, made his MMA debut in March.

Lisa J. Huriash and Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.


Former Laker and Clipper Sean Rooks dies hours after interviewing for a job with the Knicks

Muhammad Ali dies at 74; boxing great shook up the world in and out of the ring

Maria Sharapova plans to appeal ‘unfairly harsh’ two-year suspension for doping