MMA's Slice needed heart transplant before his death
Kimbo Slice, the mixed martial arts star who died Monday at age 42, had been diagnosed with heart failure and advised he would need a transplant.
Slice, as fighter Kevin Ferguson was widely known, was admitted to Northwest Medical Center in Margate, Fla., on June 3, complaining of severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath and nausea, according to information the hospital reported to Broward County's medical examiner's office.
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 Slice could have been 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.
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 2000s 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, Fla., 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."
"I think that is what drove him from being a street fighter to a professional fighter — to do the right thing, be a pro."
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.
"It was one of those oddities," Guerrerio said. "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.
Slice's unique look — a bald head and long, black beard — enhanced his legend as a destructive backyard brawler, even as he moved on to pro fighting in 2007.
"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.
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.