The Moment Race Mattered: A Haunting Childhood Memory : NPR: When Bernard Holyfield was 5 years old, he was the proud owner of a dog named Lassie, a collie who closely resembled the namesake fictional dog on television.
"And we used to always keep Lassie tied up at the house with a chain, kind of like our protector," Holyfield explains to his friend Charles Barlow, 63, for StoryCorps at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.
Bernard grew up in the '60s in Alabama, and later Atlanta, with his younger brother Evander Holyfield, a former heavyweight boxing champ. One day, Bernard recalls, he and Evander were outside their Alabama home playing near Lassie when a white man approached them.
"He was drunk, disheveled, just reeking with alcohol — he was passing by and he stopped, and he motioned for Evander and I to come over," Bernard says.
Their parents had cautioned them about talking to strangers, so the two brothers stayed put. But the man entered their yard.