Matt Sayles/AP
Alison Schwartz and Johnny Dodd
June 18, 2012 08:35 AM

More than 20 years after the end of Los Angeles riots – and just weeks before his death Sunday – Rodney King said he was keeping busy in a variety of ways.

He loved to fish in the private lake up the street from his home. He was promoting his book. He was set to marry his fiancée some time next year.

And then there was his family – his grandchildren, nieces and a nephew.

“When the kids come over, they want to go swimming 24/7,” he told PEOPLE in an April interview. “They bust their floaties, then I have to patch them up.”

RELATED: Rodney King Is Dead

That was months before his fiancée found King, the man at the center of the 1992 L.A. race riots, dead at the bottom of their pool. He was 47.

As of Sunday afternoon, detectives were on the scene conducting a drowning investigation. There were no preliminary signs of foul play. A cause of death has yet to be determined for the man who said his “life is good.”

“I am at peace,” King said at the end of PEOPLE’s April interview, explaining that he was no longer drinking “as much as I used to,” following a 2011 DUI arrest. “I finally found peace in my life.”

‘Moving On’

Still, there were certain things King would never forget, like the Taser, the name-calling, the yelling.

“I can still remember my scream,” said King, who was awarded $3.8 million in a civil case. “It was like a death scream. Even now, I can feel my chest and my heart pounding. My own scream scared me more than anything.”

For a year, he wrote about these things, so no one else would forget. His book, The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption, coauthored with Lawrence J. Spagnola, was published in April.

“It was pretty emotional going through the beating part,” he said. “What has really helped me has been the worldwide support When I understood that people, lots of people, cared about my case, that gave me strength encouraged to keep moving on.”

And sometimes, about once a year, he would watch the video that started it all, when the startling images of King trying to crawl away from police (and those officers’ subsequent acquittals) sparked the violent race riots.

“I just smile because I survived it,” he said of his reaction to the footage. “When I see it, I can’t believe I survived it. I can remember what each one of those blows felt like. But I still can’t believe I survived it.”

You May Like