IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, JOSIE HARRIS AND HER SON RECALL THE NIGHT THE BOXING CHAMPION ATTACKED HER
A Floyd Mayweather fight generally goes something like this. For 12 rounds an out-matched opponent swings and flails and misses. And loses, always loses. Mayweather has never been knocked out, never knocked down, never beaten in 47 pro bouts.
Yet as the twilight of his career closes in on the 37-year-old, so too does a swirl of negative publicity that centers on his violent and allegedly abusive relationships with a number of women in his life.
Josie Harris, Mayweather’s former long-term partner and mother to three of his four children, doesn’t see Mayweather much these days. Occasionally he will collect their children in person, but more often than not they are transported using the jet service he uses for much of his travel outside of Las Vegas.
It’s an arrangement she is happy with.
“(It means) I don’t have to take a Xanax before he comes, otherwise I will be sweating bullets,” Harris told USA TODAY Sports in an interview at her home 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. “For some reason I still get anxiety when I know that he is on his way. I have no idea why, but I get really overwhelmed when I know that I have to be around him.”
Harris says she suffered physical abuse from the boxer on “six occasions,” the worst coming in September 2010, when Mayweather entered Harris’ home as she slept, yanked her to the floor by her hair, then punched and kicked and screamed cuss words at her in front of their children. It was the couple’s oldest son, Koraun, who slipped out of the house to alert a security guard to summon police.
Mayweather was eventually sentenced to 90 days in prison. It was one of seven alleged assaults Mayweather has committed against five different women that resulted in him being arrested or issued a citation. Last month, his former fiancée, Shantel Jackson, filed a civil lawsuit including claims of battery, false imprisonment and allegations that the fighter pointed a gun at her.
A year ago, Harris still viewed her history with Mayweather as a love story gone wrong. Now, in the light of recent public awareness sparked by a video of NFL running back Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator, with even President Obama’s weighing in on efforts to stop domestic violence, she sees it differently.
“I was a battered woman,” Harris said. “I felt embarrassed about saying I was a battered woman. I felt shame. I felt like it was my fault. What did I do? I didn’t understand what a battered woman was at that time. Now I know I was in a very dysfunctional, hostile relationship and a victim of domestic violence.”
Mayweather’s representatives declined to comment for this story.
Rather than be part of the sad narrative of domestic violence, Harris has taken charge. She has written a book she hopes to publish in 2015. She wants her own experience to serve as a source of comfort and inspiration to other women trapped in a cycle of abuse. She also wants Mayweather to get professional help, though she holds little hope that he will.
“With time comes wisdom,” she wrote to USA TODAY Sports in a text message following the interview. “I hope his lessons aren’t too harsh as he does have a good heart.”
The heady world of professional sports and the adrenaline and glamour attached to it can provide an intoxicating mix for those caught up in the lifestyle. Mayweather is the highest-earning athlete in sports – he collected $41.5 million for his September 2013 victory over Saul Alvarez – and once posted online an ATM receipt that indicated an account balance of $123 million.
Harris believes the whirlwind, combined with fear of financial vulnerability and personal isolation, can cause many women to stay in a destructive relationship. Harris says she spent several years feeling sorry for herself, but counseling, therapy and anti-depressants have brought her to a point where she feels empowered.
Harris has no interest in pro football. She didn’t know who former Baltimore Ravens star Rice was, let alone his partner, Janay. Harris says she unsuccessfully attempted to contact Janay on social media to let her know that she was “not alone.”
The Rices were married a month after the NFL star knocked out Janay in an Atlantic City casino elevator — and one day after he was indicted on aggravated assault charges.
“I would definitely want to just tell her, to please, please, educate (yourself),” Harris said. “What it is that is keeping her in that relationship, make sure it’s worth it. Because if they don’t get the proper help together, then the chance of it happening again is very high.”
Koraun Mayweather is home early from school with an upset stomach and is about to head upstairs to his bedroom when he spots something on the dining room table.
His mother tells him it is a copy of his statement to police from Sept. 9, 2010, the night his father attacked her. Koraun, now 14, had never seen it, and laughs when he sees his 10-year-old’s handwriting.
“There are no commas,” he smiles. “But it is pretty good.”
But as the memories of the violence come back, Koraun’s face turns serious. He sits down at the table to talk about what happened.
Harris and Mayweather had a tempestuous relationship, full of fallings out and makeups but by then they were living apart. Harris and the children lived in an upscale area along Las Vegas’ western edge, while Mayweather lived at his own property with Shantel Jackson, who had become his main love interest.
Despite having split with Harris, Mayweather was apparently unhappy at rumors Harris was dating another man. He came to the house twice, late at night, after she had been out with friends.
On the first occasion, the pair argued and Harris, unknown to Mayweather, called police, who arrived and advised him to leave. He did, but he returned at around 4 a.m. with an associate, James McNair. With Harris asleep on the couch, Koraun, at Mayweather’s insistence, let his father inside.
Harris says she awoke with Mayweather screaming and grabbing her hair. She says he’d read affectionate text messages between her and NBA basketball player C.J. Watson, described in her book draft as her “summer love.” Watson now plays for the Indiana Pacers. Efforts to reach him through the team were unsuccessful.
With McNair present, the fighter rained punches and kicks upon her, according to the statements of Harris and the children. Harris was later treated at a hospital, but she believes Koraun saved her from more serious harm.
“(My dad) said to lock my door and stay in my room,” Koraun said, speaking softly but clearly as he sat beside Harris. “I sat there and thought about what I was going to do next. Just for like a minute.”
Koraun’s first action was to alert Harris’ friend Georgia Parker, who lived in a guesthouse in the back of the property, that his mother was being attacked. Parker did not believe him, Koraun said.
“So I ran and I tried to go through the front door to go to the (security) gate,” Koraun said. “But then his friend (McNair) came through the door and blocked off the stairway for me to go through.
“Then I went back into my room and locked the door and then ran back out my bathroom and then hopped over the gate and went to the main entrance gate. I just told (the guard) that my mom was getting hurt and to call the ambulance and the police.”
The guard called law enforcement and approached the property. Mayweather and McNair left before police arrived, taking Harris’ phone with them.
To this day, Harris is unable to hold back tears when she recalls Koraun’s actions that night.
“I just thanked him because I didn’t know how long it was going to continue to go on,” she said. “And I just feel like if he wouldn’t have gone to get the help that I may not even be able to be sitting here.”
Koraun Mayweather sees his father, hangs out with him on weekends and is treated to pretty much whatever he wants, including a Bentley golf cart, a photo of which Mayweather posted on Instagram this week. Koraun has been to big fights but knows one thing for certain, he wants nothing to do with the fierce world of boxing.
“We just hang out. We either watch a movie or something or go bowling,” he said. “I find (boxing) boring. It is just like how people sit in the ring and fight for 12 rounds and it gets boring after a while. Sometimes they run.”
Koraun says recalling the attack on his mother still makes him angry, yet the most difficult part to cope with has been Mayweather’s refusal to admit to his actions.
“He is a coward,” Koraun said, and he hugged his mom.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Martin Rogers