Last night the 2016 ESPY Awards began with four of the biggest names in basketball calling for more athletes to take a stand on social issues.
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James stood together on the Microsoft Theatre stage urging their fellow athletes to get involved on the social climate of the US like the athletes of the past.
“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for,” LA Clipper’s Chris Paul said. “So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”
There speech comes on the heels of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s death by police and the shooting of five officers in Dallas following a peaceful protest.
NY Knick’s Anthony, who has been calling athletes to step up since the shootings said:
“The system is broken, the problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new, but the urgency for change is definitely at an all-time high.”
And Wade, the new Bulls player, added:
“The racial profiling has to stop. 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.”
In the spirit of Muhammad Ali, who was honored that night, Cavalier star Lebron James, who went on to win five ESPYS, closed out the speech by telling them the best way to honor the boxing legend’s legacy is to follow not in his footsteps of social justice.
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT (greatest of all time) but to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence and, 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.”
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