Twenty years ago today, Michael Brown Jr. was born but it wasn’t until two years ago that the world knew his name. 

The Ferguson teen was gunned down in August of 2014 by a police officer while unarmed and running away. 

The Michael Brown Tragedy

In her new book, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy and Love of My Son Michael Brown, Brown’s mother Lezley McSpadden penned a touching tribute to her son just in time to commemorate his birthday. 

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“See, before the news media and the nation first heard the name Michael Brown, he was just Mike Mike to me. That’s what we called him. Everybody thinks he was a junior, but he wasn’t. Even though he had his daddy’s first and last name, his full name was Michael Orlandus Darrion Brown. I wanted my son to have his own identity, so he did. From the moment Mike Mike was born, I knew my life had changed forever. I was 16 years old with an infant. I didn’t know what kind of mother I was going to be. But when I held him in my arms for the first time and felt his soft skin, he opened his eyes, and I could see my reflection in his little pupils. I suddenly wasn’t scared anymore. It was like we were communicating with each other without words.
I was saying, “I got your back, baby,” and he was saying, “I got yours, too, Mama.”
I can’t just say he was mine, though. When Mike Mike was born, he was adored, doted on and loved by me and his daddy, my siblings and his grandparents on both sides, who helped with his rearing. He was our beautiful, -unplanned surprise—my first son, a first grandson and the first nephew in my family.”

To read the rest of the excerpt from McSpadden’s book, click here

This excerpt originally appeared in the June issue of ESSENCE, on stands May 13, 2016. Join Lezley live at the ESSENCE Festival Empowerment Experience on Saturday, July 2, 2016. Visit for details. 

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