During his time in the NBA, LeBron James has not shied away from hot-button issues, especially when it comes to race. And now that the United States has entered a period of intense racial turmoil, James offered up a question on Twitter on Sunday:
“Why Doesn’t America Love US!!!!!????TOO.”
James’ tweet comes amid a turbulent and violent weekend nationally, as protests against police brutality erupted in the days following the death of George Floyd. He died after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck during an arrest as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” Police reportedly were summoned to the scene for a “forgery in progress” and the incident was caught on a cellphone camera alongside a busy street.
The four officers involved in the incident were fired and the one who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested. Those actions came too late, though, to defuse the protests around the country.
James was ‘In Tears’ at Kimmel Video
On Saturday, James responded to a video posted by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, titled, “Justice for George,” which spoke in-depth about the seemingly intractable problem of police violence against people of color.
James wrote: “The ending has me in tears!!! Literally. This isn’t ok the way we’re treated man! I’m so hurtful for my people right this moment.”
James spoke out earlier this spring, too, following the release of a video that showed the violent death of Ahmaud Arberry, a 25-year-old in Georgia who was shot and killed while jogging after two men attempted to make a purported citizens’ arrest.
LeBron James’ History of Speaking Out
James has frequently spoken out about similar issues in the past. He and many NBA players brought attention to the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, and in 2012, he and teammate Dwyane Wade organized a photo featuring the entire Heat team wearing the kind of hoodie Martin was wearing when he was killed by a white Florida man, George Zimmerman.
He also spoke frequently about the killing of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri in 2014.
“I think that news itself, the issue is much bigger than that,” James said at the time, according to ESPN. “It’s not just one instance. It’s not just Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin or anything that’s going on in our society. I think it’s much bigger than that. Like I said last night, violence is not the answer and retaliation is not the solution. My prayers and best wishes goes out to the families of anyone that loses a loved one, especially a kid today.”
In 2018, Fox News host Laura Ingraham famously told James, on her show, to keep his political opinions to himself and, “shut up and dribble.”
At the All-Star Game that followed just days later, James got the last laugh.
“We will definitely not shut up and dribble,” he said. “I mean too much to society, too much to the youth, too much to so many kids who feel like they don’t have a way out. I had no idea who she is … until now. So she won in that case.”