LeBron James joined Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul to address the police shootings of black men in a joint speech at the opening of the 2016 ESPYs Wednesday night, as the stars spoke of a ‘broken system’ and a ‘shoot-to-kill mentality.’
Dwayne Wade implored: ‘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.’
Later, Steph Curry introduced Zenobia Dobson, mother of slain high-school footballer Zaevion Dobson, who accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on his behalf while saying she was there to ‘fight back’ for the tightening of gun laws.
Chris Paul of the LA Clippers spoke next. Calling himself a father, son, husband, brother and ‘nephew of a police officer,’ he went on to list a roll-call of high-profile black victims of police violence including Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. ‘This is also our reality,’ he said.
‘The racial profiling has to stop,’ said Dwayne Wade. ‘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.
‘Now, as athletes, it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than what we already do in our own communities. And the conversation cannot – it cannot stop as our schedules get busy again.
‘It won’t always be convenient. It won’t. It won’t always be comfortable. But it is necessary.’
Finally, James closed out the speech: ‘We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence. We do. But that’s not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “What are we doing to create change?”‘
He continued: ‘I know tonight we’ll honor Muhammad Ali, the GOAT.
‘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. Thank you.’