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Rockson Gracie

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Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations

Rockson Gracie was the oldest son of the legendary Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter and MMA pioneer Rickson Gracie, who was considered by many to be one of the greatest prospects in BJJ during the 1990’s decade. A 3x Pan American Champion by the age of 19, Rockson Gracie would also become one of the sports saddest losses this martial art had to overcome, after his passing on December of 2000 in a New York hotel room due to a drug overdose. In 2011 the Rockson Gracie Foundation was founded, the focus of the charity is to reach underprivileged youngsters often tempted by drugs or gangs, and provide them with a fun and competitive outlet.

Rockson Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Rockson Gracie

Nickname: n/a

Lineage:

Main Achievements:

  • Pan American Champion (1998 blue, 1999 and 2000 purple)
  • Pan American Bronze Medallist (1997 blue)

Favourite Position/Technique: n/a

Weight Division: Peso Pluma (64kg/141lbs)

Team/Association: Rickson Gracie JJ/ Gracie Humaita

Rockson Gracie Biography

Rockson Gracie was born in 1982, being the son of arguably the greatest Jiu Jitsu competitor of all time, Mr Rickson Gracie and the former model Kim Gracie (Lilian Stavinsky). Rockson was the oldest out of 4 children (Rockson, Kauan, Kaulin and Kron Gracie).

Being the first born child of Rickson, Jiu Jitsu came naturally to the young Gracie and his training started from an early age. On the Vale Tudo documentary “Choke” featuring Rickson Gracie, Rockson is caught on tape several times next to his father. Other footage of the young prodigy is seen on early 1990s promotional videos for Rickson and his BJJ school in the US.

With an amazing track record, an intense look (shaven head, tattoos) and Rickson Gracie always by his side, Rockson Gracie became somewhat of a sensation in the US’ competitive scene, being pointed out by some of the media as the next hot prospect to come out of the Gracie family, a family with a great fighting tradition.

On October of 2000, at 19 years of age, Rockson decided to leave his parents house in Los Angeles and move to New York with his girlfriend to try a career as a professional model. As the weeks went by Rockson’s contact with the family started being less frequent, and by the end of January 2001, after almost 1 month without contact, Rickson decided to ask his cousin Renzo Gracie (who lived and owned a gym in New York) to track his son’s whereabouts.

Renzo found Rockson’s girlfriend in Miami on the 7th of February, she informed him the couple had split, Renzo returned to New York that day. Now truly worried he started searching the hospitals and police stations. Renzo finally identified Rockson’s body from a police file through Rockson’s arm tattoo which said: “The Best Father of the World: Rickson Gracie”. Rockson had been found dead by the authorities in December due to drug intoxication at the Providence hotel in Manhattan.

Rockson’s body was exhumed from the pauper’s grave where it had been buried, he was cremated and the ashes taken to his favorite Malibu beach where they were spread.

Rickson Gracie, who was set to fight Kazushi Sakuraba that year, in what would’ve been the most anticipated MMA fight in the history of the sport, cancelled the fight and never fought professionally again. He has mentioned on more than one occasion that his son’s loss was by far the hardest thing to overcome in his life and that he didn’t train for almost 3 years when going through his grieving process.

In 2011 the “Rockson Gracie Foundation” (thegracieway.org) was created in honor of this great champion.

Rockson Gracie fight 1997

Rockson Gracie rolling with Helio Gracie

Rockson and Rickson Gracie demonstration

Guard Passing Instructional by Lucas Lepri

19 Comments

  • Ben Wynkoop says:

    Profiling competitors of not just present, but past (Rockson) is just another reason why BJJ Heroes puts out such high quality content. Between this, your BJJ gi almanac, tournament updates and team biographies, I cannot say enough good things.

  • Oliver Jones says:

    Great write-up as ever from BJJ-heroes. I never knew of the time gap (Dec-Feb) before he was discovered. So sad.

  • AbleTyler says:

    You're telling me he had a tattoo on his body specifically saying who his father was, and the police had a picture of it on file so you know they saw it but they still buried him in a pauper’s grave….. That seems like they didn't even try to find his family. I'm pissed off for his family, that seems like a horrible thing to do to him and to his family.

    • Phil Dyer says:

      Likewise. This is so very upsetting. I know a number of ny police and im a dt instructor to many agencies. Most of the cops I know can identify the gracie name. I am stunned by the apparent lake of effort. I know renzo trains a ton of NY Cops and Im sure they were disappointed as well.
      Sadly this is how many look at drug overdoses. They think its a character defect and not a mental health issue. So profoundly sad.
      I spent time in May of that year on a cruise with Royce and offered my condolences but didnt ask questions. How sad for the whole family.

  • Chris says:

    That does sound like poor police work, especially if you think at least one of them could have MMA at some point and been familiar with the name. Incredibly sad story.

  • BRANN says:

    Over 15 years have passed since he passed away bless him. The fact he had a tattoo with his fathers name 'rickson gracie' inked on his skin didnt link the name to such a world famous name/family doesnt sound right to me. It really does sound very strange. Almost like they didnt even try/give a crap to follow up the name!

  • Michaela says:

    Such a terribly sad story. I just found it after searching Rickson Gracie whom I remembered first learning about from a Bruce Weber photographic study in 89. He was immediately a hero to me, so pure. Such a tragic tale. A very strong man. Hero.
    Police idiocy just so brutally awful.
    The Gracie clan is a truly inspirational human bond.

  • Danny Thoroughgood says:

    All good men that read this incredibly sad article, I wish you nothing but love and respect as I know this pain but am humbled by the sincerity of this page
    OSS
    Danny

  • Ian Sc says:

    His tattoo said “The Best Father of the World: Rickson Gracie” and the police couldn’t find his relatives?

  • Guillaume Duranton says:

    No it was in English

  • Mike Americano says:

    Rockson was a friend. One of the kindest most humble people I have ever met. He introduced me to Jiu-Jitsu. I am now a second degree Black Belt thanks to him and his teachings, I turned away from gangs and drugs in Los Angeles due to what I saw him do with his art. I could go on and on about the many things I saw him do personally, with the little time I had to coexist with him. May your souls rest in piece brother Rockson. Um forte abraço sempre…

  • Courtney says:

    Mike, you are so right! Spent high school nights with him and my boyfriend… I even beat a black belt female at a party one evening and I had no training at all!!! He was about loving everyone and had excellent sportsmanship!!! R.I.P. I even remember That green and black necklace that he loved so much that was given to him by his family and he would show it off in the most appropriate manner!

    • Megan says:

      WOW… I don’t even have to ask if this is you Courtney. seriously? You did not beat anyone’s ass, and what the f**k did that have to do with Rockson? He wasn’t even your friend, he just hung out with us at your house one time. Awesome tribute to Rockson! I know he’s actually laughing his ass off right now.

  • Rob says:

    Rickson was one of my hereo’s, my wife and I were on the team for the Candian World Championships along with Rockson, he beat everyone in his class (he was then 13) and moved up to adult class and beat everyone in that class, Rickson was on the side when my wife fought for the absolute against a woman 50 lbs heavier and a 10 year judo champion from Australia, my wife lost to her only by 1 point….

  • ROGERIO AUGUSTO PERILLO says:

    rockson was mudered… inveja! OSS… RIP RICKSON IS THE BEST, ever!

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