SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Rodney King’s mother is speaking publicly for the first time Monday night about the death of her son.

Meanwhile, dozens of people gathered in L.A.’s Leimert Park neighborhood to remember King and pay tribute to his role as a civil rights icon.

“We don’t begin to miss a person until they’re gone,” said King’s civil rights attorney Milton Grimes, adding, “And so now we’re beginning to miss him and think about the things we could have done.”

Project Islamic Hope organized Monday’s tribute and those in attendance said a lot has changed since the 1992 L.A. Riots and credit King with those changes.

Henry Watson was in attendance. Many remember him as one of the men who took part in beating trucker Reginald Denny on live TV during the riots.

He said that day still haunts him.

“Yeah, I have to reflect on it. Every year it’s the 29th, on the calendar. So, yeah, you look back and reflect back on the past — but, we don’t dwell on the past, we move forward,” Watson said.

King’s mother, Odessa King, said a few words on the family’s behalf from her home in the Sacramento area. She said her granddaughters were hit hard by their father’s death, especially the youngest of his three daughters.

“My granddaughter, I just spoke to her today, and she was talking about, ‘Grandma, can you remember the fun times that me and my dad had?’…I think the baby one, her heart is broken a bit, all three of [his daughter’s] hearts are broken, The baby one has suffered and we want her to know that we love her,” she said.


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