LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are each all-star NBA players and the faces of their respective franchises. – James, for the entire sport. With the knowledge of how much influence they have, the four good friends came together to open the ESPY Awards with a speech about racial injustice and gun violence.
“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,” said Paul, according to ESPN. “So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”
“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,” said Anthony, who recently called on his fellow athletes to stand up for the cause, regardless of how it may look to sponsors.
“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,” said recent Chicago Bulls-signee Dwyane Wade. “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.”
LeBron James, considered by many to be the best player in the NBA, closed off the segment with a speech of his own.
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT,” he said. “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.”