Miami Heat star Meyers Leonard stood out from the rest of his team on January 6, as the 28-year-old decided to stay standing during the national anthem before tipoff. While the U.S. Capitol building was under siege by Trump supporters, he was the only player not kneel on in the entire AA Arena, as their opponents, the Boston Celtics, all knelt for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Leonard explained his decision to stand for the anthem before Wednesday’s tilt, during which the Heat narrowly lost to the Celtics 107-105. He wrote on Instagram:
I STAND FOR the men and women, like my brother who have served this country. I STAND AGAINST the violence and riots in DC. I STAND in solidarity with my teammates and brothers. I STAND AGAINST bigotry, racism, and hate. I STAND FOR HOPE that our country can one day stop using our differences to divide us and SEE how our HEARTS can unite us. I STAND WITH LOVE in my heart for EVERYONE.
Following Leonard’s much-scrutinized choice to stand, his wife, Elle Leonard, became the target of attacks on social media. However, Elle Leonard, the founder of Level Foods, fiercely defended her man against a woman who directly messaged her to say, “Your husband is a piece of s*** – the only one standing during the national anthem tonight. Disgusting. Disgraceful. Delusional.”
Elle Leonard shared screenshots of the interaction on her Instagram stories, and because she was blocked from responding, shared the message she’d written in response via screenshot. She didn’t go off on the woman trolling her, but chalked up her angry response to having “an off day” said, “I’m sorry that whatever is upsetting you rationalized an attack on another woman.”
While linking to Leonard’s explanation of his decision, Elle Leonard said, “Standing for one thing doesn’t mean that we stand against another. It’s kinda like how you can be a successful business woman AND a mother. Or.. .a student and an athlete. From what I ca see you’ve been standing for two things the majority of your life. AND that’s incredible.
The Heat & Celtics Released a Powerful Joint Statement Before the Game Started
Even as the players started warming up in the AA Arena, there was uncertainty as to whether NBA games would continue as scheduled. However, both the Heat and the Celtics delivered a strong statement on why they decided to continue on to play during such national unrest.
The joint statement said, “We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal America.”
This Wasn’t the First Time Leonard Remined Standing for the National Anthem
Wednesday night was not the first time Leonard stood during the anthem. Back in August, he explained to the media why he’ll wear a “Black Lives Matter’ shirt, but will not kneel while “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays along with the rest of his teammates.
Leonard said, “Some of the conversations I’ve had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult. I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country.”
“I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people,” Leonard said, noting how had numerous sleepless night before making his decision whether to stand or kneel. “I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into Black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true.”
“I will continue to use my platform, my voice and my actions to show how much I care about the African American culture and for everyone,” he added. “I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way.”