Rockson Gracie: The Life And Death Of Rickson’s First Son

Rockson Gracie
Free John Danaher Instructional BJJ DVD

Rockson Gracie is a name that people in the BJJ community know, albeit vaguely at best. He was the firstborn son of the legendary Rickson Gracie, and had a very promising grappling career, easily standing out over contemporary Gracie family members – he was already a 3x Pans Champion at the age of 19  Unfortunately, Rockson did not get the chance to showcase all his Jiu-Jitsu potential, as when was found dead of an overdose in a hotel room in 2000, a tragedy that greatly impacted the world of martial arts and in particular, Rickson.

Today, we’ll tell the story of Rockson Gracie, how he lived, grappled, and tragically died.

Rockson Gracie Biography

Early Life

Rockson was the firstborn son of Rickson Gracie, one of the best fighters to ever live. He was born on November 25th, 1981 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to father Rickson and mother Kim Gracie who was a former model.

An interesting fact is that Rockosn was born while Rickson was in the middle of the tournament. He had just won when the baby came and had barely slept before having to fight again the other day (he finished the match against Sergio Penha with a choke). It seems Rockosn was designed for grappling from the moment he was born.

Rockson Gracie started following in his father’s footsteps from a very early age, being exposed to a young Rickon on the rise to his prime. They were often basically sparring on the ground while playing, and even though there was no real pressure, Rockosn Gracie was said to have had an immense understanding of offense and defense and was natural at movement and timing. Not really surprising for a Gracie.

As Rockson Gracie grew up, Rickon was a bit worried at one point about his height, as he was short for his age. Later on, though, with all the training and physical activity associated with being a Gracie, Rockon not only grew but developed into an impressive specimen, even landing a few modeling jobs for the likes of Calvin Klein.

He has three younger brothers in Kauan, Kaulin, and Kron. He also had many friends and was a popular young man, often treating his friend when they went out with the money he made from modeling.

Competitive Career

As a grappler, Rockson got to the rank of the purple belt before his untimely death. He was competing as a featherweight representing Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Humaita. As a grappler, he was very intense, quite reminiscent of his father. Rockson Gracie managed to win 3rd Place at the IBJJF Pan Ams in 1997 as a blue belt announcing himself to the BJJ world.

Following up on that, he won the Pan Ams as a blue belt in the following two years (1998 and 1999) and did the same as a purple belt in 2000. With a shaved head, tattoos, and Rickson in his corner, he was not someone opponents took lightly. Moreover, growing up with Rickson in his prime, and sharing a special connection with him, as can be seen in the documentary “Choke”, Rockosn Gracie was regarded not just as Rickon’s successor, but someone that would surpass his father’s legacy.

Rockson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Style

Rockon Gracie’s style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was similar to his father’s. He appeared very intimidating, calm, and focused, traits associated with just about every fight Rickon had. In terms of tactics, Rockson was extremely disciplined, but still creative. He did not just emulate his father’s game and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu principles but added his own flair to stuff.

Rockon worked the basics of Gracie BJJ, never going backward once he won a position, looking to mount or achieve back control, and constantly hunting for the finish. While appearing calm and collected, he was relentless, constantly pushing the pace, not afraid to enter a scramble and comfortably win most of them.

The only fights he had were Jiu-Jitsu matches, and the question definitely remains to linger, how he would have fared in MMA, with the sport booming at the time by way of the UFC’s success in the USA.

Rockson Gracie Death

Having lots of success with his modeling jobs, Rockon decided in 2000 that he would try his hand at being a professional model in New York, moving away from his parent’s house in L.A. and settling into an apartment with his girlfriend. In the months to follow, Rockson became distant from his family, eventually falling completely out of touch.

After a month of no news, Rickson sent his brother Renzo, who lives in NYC to check on Rockson. Renzo did not have an easy time locating Rockosn, eventually discovering his girlfriend in Miami, only to learn they were no longer together. Renzo then started asking around police stations in New York, eventually identifying Rockson’s body through his tattoo. The police had found him dead in the Providence hotel in Manhattan a couple of months before.

So, how did Rockson Gracie die? 

According to the official medical report, his death was the result of a drug overdose, despite rumors spreading for a while that he died in a motorcycle accident. The specific circumstances of his death are still not clear to the public, and perhaps not even to the Gracie family.

After he was identified, Rockon’s body was exhumated and was cremated before his ashes were spread at his favorite beach in Malibu.

The Impact of Rockson’s Death On The Gracie Family

The tragic and early death of Rockson shook the Gracie family to its foundations. Rickson, in particular, found it extremely difficult to process his son’s passing. It took him the better part of three years to process the tragedy, during which time he meditated a lot, withdrew to the woods on numerous occasions, and had no desire to do anything, before he managed to pull himself together again, with the help of his family.

In an interview with Ragga magazine, Rickson said “When you lose something truly profound, you have to sit, cry, and accept that you’ve hit rock bottom.”

While Rickson did eventually recover from the death of Rockson, he never fought again. Just prior to his son’s death, he was set to fight the “Gracie Hunter” Kazushi Sakuraba in what was supposed to be one of the greatest MMA fights of all time. Not only did that fight never materialize, but Rickon never got back to fighting ever again.

“When you lose something very important, you die with it” Rickson declared in an interview with “Conversa com Bial” on TV Globo in Brazil.

Rockson Gracie Legacy

Rockson Gracie was a very important figure in the world of martial arts, particularly in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His untimely passing affected everyone in the family, but especially hit Rickson really hard. After grieving for a very long time, Rickon now looks at the experience from a different perspective. 

“There’s no way you want to have a moral, or balanced, or rational attitude over a loss that breaks your heart. But it doesn’t represent my reality. I don’t think in Rockson and crying. I think about Rockson and I laugh, I’m happy because he left me a great message,” Rickson shares.

One thing that Rickon now runs as part of his son’s legacy is the Rockson Gracie Foundation, a non-profit that tries to reach disadvantaged youths and teach them about non-vieolence through Jiu-Jitsu classes. 

Other Tragic Deaths In The Gracie Family 

The Gracie family has had its fair share of tragedical deaths in addition to the demise of Rockson Gracie. Ryan Gracie, the son of Robson Gracie and brother of Ralph and Renzo also died tragically at the age of just 33. He died in a prison cell in Sao Paolo, after being arrested for stealing and crashing a cat. While incarcerated, his wife send a psychiatrist to tend to Ryan, who had his fair share of trouble before. The doctor was later charged with medical negligence, as it appears he gave Ryan the wrong dose of medication, causing his death. He was already a black belt and an accomplished grappler and MMA fighter at the time. 

Another big tragedy in the Gracie family was the passing of Rolls Gracie, son of Carlos Gracie Sr. He died in 1983, at the age of 31 in a paragliding accident. Before the accident, Rolls was the most feared fighter in the Gracie family, setting about a completely new era of Jiu-Jitsu competitors that still lasts these days. 

In Conclusion

The death of Rockson Gracie was a huge tragedy in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and combat arts in general. The world lost a huge prospect in Rockson, and the effects of his death sidelined his father, arguably the most successful and legendary Gracie fighter of all times, for good. Remembering Rockson and his legacy is the least we can do to honor him and the Gracie family. 

Rockson Gracie is a name that people in the BJJ community know, albeit vaguely at best. He was the firstborn son of the legendary Rickson Gracie, and had a very promising grappling career, easily standing out over contemporary Gracie family members – he was already a 3x Pans Champion at the age of 19  Unfortunately, Rockson did not get the chance to showcase all his Jiu-Jitsu potential, as when was found dead of an overdose in a hotel room in 2000, a tragedy that greatly impacted the world of martial arts and in particular, Rickson.

Today, we’ll tell the story of Rockson Gracie, how he lived, grappled, and tragically died.

Rockson Gracie Biography

Early Life

Rockson was the firstborn son of Rickson Gracie, one of the best fighters to ever live. He was born on November 25th, 1981 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to father Rickson and mother Kim Gracie who was a former model.

An interesting fact is that Rockosn was born while Rickson was in the middle of the tournament. He had just won when the baby came and had barely slept before having to fight again the other day (he finished the match against Sergio Penha with a choke). It seems Rockosn was designed for grappling from the moment he was born.

Rockson Gracie started following in his father’s footsteps from a very early age, being exposed to a young Rickon on the rise to his prime. They were often basically sparring on the ground while playing, and even though there was no real pressure, Rockosn Gracie was said to have had an immense understanding of offense and defense and was natural at movement and timing. Not really surprising for a Gracie.

As Rockson Gracie grew up, Rickon was a bit worried at one point about his height, as he was short for his age. Later on, though, with all the training and physical activity associated with being a Gracie, Rockon not only grew but developed into an impressive specimen, even landing a few modeling jobs for the likes of Calvin Klein.

He has three younger brothers in Kauan, Kaulin, and Kron. He also had many friends and was a popular young man, often treating his friend when they went out with the money he made from modeling.

Competitive Career

As a grappler, Rockson got to the rank of the purple belt before his untimely death. He was competing as a featherweight representing Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Humaita. As a grappler, he was very intense, quite reminiscent of his father. Rockson Gracie managed to win 3rd Place at the IBJJF Pan Ams in 1997 as a blue belt announcing himself to the BJJ world.

Following up on that, he won the Pan Ams as a blue belt in the following two years (1998 and 1999) and did the same as a purple belt in 2000. With a shaved head, tattoos, and Rickson in his corner, he was not someone opponents took lightly. Moreover, growing up with Ricskon’s in his prime, and sharing a special connection with him, as can be seen in the documentary “Choke”, Rockosn Gracie was regarded not just as Rickon’s successor, but someone that would surpass his father’s legacy.

Rockson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Style

Rockon Gracie’s style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was similar to his father’s. He appeared very intimidating, calm, and focused, traits associated with just about every fight Rickon had. In terms of tactics, Rockson was extremely disciplined, but still creative. He did not just emulate his father’s game and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu principles but added his own flare to stuff.

Rockon worked the basics of Gracie BJJ, never going backwards once he won a position, looking to mount or achieve back control and constantly hunting for the finish. While appearing calm and collected, he was relentless, constantly pushing the pace, not afraid to enter a scramble and comfortably win most of them.

The only fights he had were Jiu-Jitsu matches, and the question definitely remains to linger, how he would have fared in MMA, with the sport booming at the time by way of the UFC’s success in the USA.

Rockson Gracie Death

Having lots of success with his modeling jobs, Rockon decided in 2000 that he would try his hand at being a professional model in New York, moving away from his parent’s house in L.A. and settling into an apartment with his girlfriend. In the months to follow, Rockson became distant from his family, eventually falling completely out of touch.

After a month of no news, Rickson sent his brother Renzo, who lives in NYC to check on Rockson. Renzo did not have an easy time locating Rockosn, eventually discovering his girlfriend in Miami, only to learn they were no longer together. Renzo then started asking around police stations in New York, eventually identifying Rockson’s body through his tattoo. The police had found him dead in the Providence hotel in Manhattan a couple of months before.

So, how did Rockson Gracie die? 

According to the official medical report, his death was the result of a drug overdose, despite rumors spreading for a while that he died in a motorcycle accident. The specific circumstances of his death are still not clear to the public, and perhaps not even to the Gracie family.

After he was identified, Rockon’s body was exhumated and was cremated before his ashes were spread at his favorite beach in Malibu.

The Impact of Rockson’s Death On The Gracie Family

The tragic and early death of Rockson shook the Gracie family to its foundations. Rickson, in particular, found it extremely difficult to process his son’s passing. It took him the better part of three years to process the tragedy, during which time he meditated a lot, withdrew to the woods on numerous occasions, and had no desire to do anything, before he managed to pull himself together again, with the help of his family.

In an interview with Ragga magazine, Rickson said “When you lose something truly profound, you have to sit, cry, and accept that you’ve hit rock bottom.”

While Rickson did eventually recover from the death of Rockson, he never fought again. Just prior to his son’s death, he was set to fight the “Gracie Hunter” Kazushi Sakuraba in what was supposed to be one of the greatest MMA fights of all time. Not only did that fight never materialize, but Rickon never got back to fighting ever again.

“When you lose something very important, you die with it” Rickson declared in an interview with “Conversa com Bial” on TV Globo in Brazil.

Rockson Gracie Legacy

Rockson Gracie was a very important figure in the world of martial arts, particularly in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His untimely passing affected everyone in the family, but especially hit Rickson really hard. After grieving for a very long time, Rickon now looks at the experience from a different perspective. 

“There’s no way you want to have a moral, or balanced, or rational attitude over a loss that breaks your heart. But it doesn’t represent my reality. I don’t think in Rockson and crying. I think about Rockson and I laugh, I’m happy because he left me a great message,” Rickson shares.

One thing that Rickon now runs as part of his son’s legacy is the Rockson Gracie Foundation, a non-profit that tries to reach disadvantaged youths and teach them about non-vieolence through Jiu-Jitsu classes. 

Other Tragic Deaths In The Gracie Family 

The Gracie family has had its fair share of tragedical deaths in addition to the demise of Rockson Gracie. Ryan Gracie, the son of Robson Gracie and brother of Ralph and Renzo also died tragically at the age of just 33. He died in a prison cell in Sao Paolo, after being arrested for stealing and crashing a cat. While incarcerated, his wife send a psychiatrist to tend to Ryan, who had his fair share of trouble before. The doctor was later charged with medical negligence, as it appears he gave Ryan the wrong dose of medication, causing his death. He was already a black belt and an accomplished grappler and MMA fighter at the time. 

Another big tragedy in the Gracie family was the passing of Rolls Gracie, son of Carlos Gracie Sr. He died in 1983, at the eh age of 31 in a paragliding accident. Before the accident, Rolls was the most feared fighter in the Gracie family, setting about a completely new era of Jiu-Jitsu competitors that still lasts these days. 

In Conclusion

The death of Rockson Gracie was a huge tragedy in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and combat arts in general. The world lost a huge prospect in Rockson, and the effects of his death sidelined his father, arguably the most successful and legendary Gracie fighter of all times, for good. Remembering Rockson and his legacy is the least we can do to honor him and the Gracie family. 

BJJ Fanatics 50% Off discount
Previous articleJohn Danaher BJJ Wisdoms That’ll Change Your Life
Next article(VIDEO) Mike Perry Brawls At BKFC Tampa With a Fighter We All Remember