Few moments have meant as much to Randy Brown in his MMA career as being able to fight in the UFC when his father could watch him perform.
That may not seem like a monumental occasion for most fighters, but Brown’s father has been incarcerated for more than 30 years. While he’s maintained a constant presence in his son’s life, he wasn’t able to watch until more recently. According to Brown, his father is currently serving time in USP Lewisburg, a medium security Federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
“He went to jail under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) act, that’s when they first started RICO and all that,” Brown explained when appearing on The MMA Hour. “He was someone of interest that they wanted to get in organized crime. They slowly worked their way and built up over time and build up a case against him.
“He was a guy, he ran operations where they moved drugs, they did certain things — they robbed, extortion, all type of stuff. They were after him and eventually they got him and he went down under RICO and that was it. They gave him three life sentences.”
The RICO Act, passed into law in 1970, was instituted to allow for extended criminal penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
After the conviction was handed down, Brown says his mother was deported back to Jamaica, where he grew up. He maintained a relationship with his father through phone calls and visits back to the U.S.
That didn’t change when Brown moved back to America, preparing to finish high school. He’s stayed in constant contact with his father, regardless of the distance between them.
“I see him a lot,” he said. “I see him almost like twice a month. A lot of people don’t realize that I actually had my dad in my life the entire time, even when I got sent to Jamaica I’d speak to him almost everyday. Then when I came back up, leave for the summers to come back to America, they’d bring me to go visit him.”
As hard as it’s been to have his father in prison for almost his entire life, Brown believes there’s finally a chance his family will be reunited if an upcoming hearing goes his way.
“He has one more [hearing] coming up,” Brown said. “It’s coming up soon, I think it’s coming up this summer, and that’s it. He had a few already, he was denied before in the past, but he hasn’t had an incident in there in like 20 years. He’s involved in so many different programs and mentoring programs, and he’s accomplished so much while he’s in there and all the programs that they have. At this point, he’s no longer a threat to society.
“He’s a good guy, he’s completely changed. He’s devoted his life to god. I think that time is served. He did a lot of time. He’s been in there a long time and a lot of the laws have changed. A lot of the drug laws, movement of marijuana and movement of certain things, those things are not illegal anymore.
“I think a lot of his time is time served on the other things, and I think that he should be able to be free now, be with his family now, be with his grandchildren. Be able to see my son and my future children.”
Nothing is obviously guaranteed with the parole hearing, but Brown is optimistic his father will leave prison in the near future.
“He’s really changed a lot,” Brown said. “I’m not making excuses for the things that were done. He did what he knew. He was an immigrant at the time. He came from Jamaica to New York, and he found a way, and his way, it wasn’t the best way, but it was the way he knew how.
“When he talks about why he went to jail and why he want to prison, he always says he did enough time for all of us. He almost sacrificed himself to try to put us in a better position and in some ways he did.”
Brown continues to use his own fighting career as a way to change the story surrounding his family name. With a 12-year-old son at home, Brown always strives to serve as a good example and a role model, and that matters more to him than any single fight inside the octagon.
“My job is to change the narrative of the last name Brown,” he explained. “My job now as an MMA fighter, this small thing that I do, I want to change my entire name for everyone.”