OPINION: Lessons Can Be Found in Rodney King's Life

There was a sense that sometimes the media expected Rodney to continue to fall from grace.

Like nearly every current or former public safety reporter, I've written about Rodney King. It's a sad reality. Rodney had many struggles.

My story was from 2005 and was very short. It involved a fight between his daughter, girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend, according to information provided by the Rialto Police Department at the time.

King was arrested on suspicion of making threats.

According to police, Rodney had what could be classified as a volatile situation in his Rialto home. He had three strong-willed women living with him: girlfriend Dawn Jean, daughter Candace King, and Candace's mother Carmen Simpson, officials said.

A fight reportedly erupted between Candace and Jean. When the fight turned physical, Simpson become involved, officials said. Rodney got caught in the middle and was hit in the head, supposedly with a stick. Rodney's response, according to police, was to threaten to kill people in the house.

I'm not sure I would have even been writing about the incident had it not been for the fact that someone called 9-1-1 to report an assault and that Rodney allegedly had a gun.

It was a gun, a toy gun. Of course, King was still arrested. After that, another reporter followed up on the case. I have long since left the cops beat. I'm too old - in journalism years - to stand out at crime scenes in the bitter cold or sweltering heat of Southern California.

I never met Rodney King. I was in journalism school in Orange County when the riots erupted in Los Angeles. But he sure made an impression on me.

In some ways I felt for Rodney because I think it was a true perception that most of the media (I say in an attempt to be diplomatic) were always just waiting for him to fall from grace.

Reporter: "You hear Rodney King was arrested ... AGAIN!"

He struggled. We saw it on that VH1 reality show "Celebrity Rehab." Addiction is destructive.

For the sake of many of those who shared similar personal struggles, I wanted to see King defeat his demons. I held that hope until the news today.

Still, though his life was cut tragically short at age 47, I'm holding out hope he might be remembered for his ability to come to terms with the beating and for his recently published book about the road to redemption.

It's cliché to write, but maybe we can learn from Rodney. And not just because it would give meaning to a hard-lived life, but because maybe, just maybe, heeding his lessons might spare us from some of the same.


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