Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Family loses mother, brother

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Brad Rone's sister Celeste Moss talks about his death during a boxing match in Utah on Friday.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
Heavyweight boxer Brad Anthony Rone stepped into the ring Friday night in Cedar City, Utah, with his mother on his mind.

For Rone, a 260-pound teddy bear of a man, his heart was especially heavy that night, his promoter told family members. His mother died the day before in his hometown of Cincinnati and his promoter told him he shouldn't fight.

"I'm not going home," Rone, 34, told the promoter. "Let me fight this for my mother."

But by the end of the first round, Rone gasped for air and collapsed in the ring. Autopsy results indicate that the Hughes High School graduate died of a heart attack, his sister Celeste Moss said Monday.

The professional boxer died of a broken heart, family members said as they prepared for Friday's double funeral in North College Hill, where a mother's casket will lie beside her son's.

"My brother loved his mother so hard," said Moss at her West Chester apartment. "Brad may have gotten here for her funeral and the same thing, a heart attack, may have happened. ..."

"So God took care of it for us," she said. "He sent Brad to go be with Mom."

Moss pored over pictures of her mother, Thelma Rone, who was 66 when she died of heart failure Thursday evening.

Moss and her aunt Danielle Hilton of Hampton, Va., said both mother and son had hearts so big they may just have burst.

Thelma Rone was a single mother of 10 with a smile that lit up a room. She worked two and three jobs to support her family. Although her children grew up poor in North Avondale with the kids crammed into two bedrooms, Rone always had nice clothes for them, a spotless house and plenty of gifts at Christmas.

"She was our mother, and she was our father," Moss said. "She was a soldier, and she taught us to be soldiers, too."

She loved to invite over her family, friends and her pastor to her Mount Healthy home for Southern meals of collard greens, fried chicken and her specialty, a mouth-watering dressing.

Brad Rone pursued boxing when he turned 18. He was a sparring partner for Mike Tyson, Moss said, and Tyson told Rone he was "the only one who stood toe to toe and fought with him in sparring."

"It's just so surreal," Hilton said. "I keep wondering when this awful movie is going to end."

Family members take solace in one Thelma Rone's last conversations.

Just hours before she died Thelma Rone - who had an unspoken love and admiration for her son - told him:

"I love you and I'm proud of you."


E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com

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