MLK Jr.’s Son Dead at 62

( – Dexter Scott King, 62, the son of Martin Luther King Jr., died Jan. 20 at his home in Malibu, California, after battling prostate cancer.

According to a statement from the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, his wife, Leah Weber King, stated Dexter King “transitioned peacefully in his sleep.” She said he battled “until the end,” adding that he faced the fight “with bravery and might.”

Dexter King, the third of four children and lookalike of his father, was named after in Montgomery, Alabama’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where his father was pastor in the 1950s. When his father was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in April 1968, Dexter King was only 7 years old. He went on to attend Morehouse College. After college, he helped lead efforts to protect the legacy of the King family and served as president of the King Estate and as chairman of the King Center.

He visited James Earl Ray, the man convicted of assassinating his father, in prison in 1997. During the visit, Ray stated he did not kill his father, and Dexter King stated he believed him. The visit was part of a push by the King family to have Ray stand trial in hopes of revealing more evidence related to their father’s assassination. Ray, who confessed to the assassination in 1969, died in 1998. He also addressed the impact of his father’s death in “Growing Up King,” his 2003 memoir.

In a statement, the King Center said Dexter King has dedicated his life to “the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy.”

His youngest sibling, the Rev. Bernice King said, “Words cannot express the heartbreak.”

His oldest surviving sibling, Martin Luther King III called the loss of his brother “devastating.”

In a statement, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Dexter King “left us far too soon.”

He is survived by his wife, brother, sister, and niece, Yolanda Renee King. He is predeceased by his older sister, Yolanda Denise King, who died in 2007, and his mother, Coretta Scott King, who died in 2006.

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