At Wednesday Night’s ESPY Awards, four of the NBA’s biggest stars teamed up to call for an end to gun violence.
“The racial profiling has to stop,” Dwyane Wade said at the annual awards show. “The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.”
Wade was joined onstage by Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Lebron James. “We cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America,” Anthony explained. “The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plagues many of us. The system is broken. The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide is definitely not new.”
Paul – who pointed out that his uncle is a police officer – listed the names of African Americans who have been shot and killed by the police in recent years and reminded viewers of the rich history of athletes who also served as effective activists. “Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others set a model for what athletes should stand for,” Paul said. “So we choose to follow in their footsteps.” Wade seconded this: “As athletes, it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our own communities.”
James ended the speech with “a call to action for all professional athletes.” He encouraged his peers to “speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence. Most importantly, go back to our communities. Invest our time, our resources. Help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.”
“We all have to do better,” he noted. “We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence. That’s not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: what are we doing to create change?”