Since the death of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there have been protests all throughout the country calling for justice and equality for the black community. Hundreds of thousands have turned out for the protests including some of the sports most recognizable faces who have clearly had enough of the racial divide that is so evident in the country.
Major leagues around the country have released statements regarding Floyd’s death and some players and coaches have even attended the protests.
Perhaps the league that is showing the most support is the NBA. Players from all around the league have been spotted participating in protests in major cities. New Orleans Pelicans guard and Los Angeles native, Lonzo Ball was spotted with his younger brothers LiAngelo and Lamelo at protests in the greater Los Angeles area last Sunday.
Jordan Clarkson, a guard for the Utah Jazz was also spotted protesting Floyd’s death in Los Angeles while former NBA All-Star and current forward for the Philadelphia 76ers Tobias Harris attended a protest in Philadelphia on Saturday.
A rising star for the Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to attend protests in his home state of Georgia in Atlanta.
Brown used his social media platform to encourage others in the Atlanta area to join him. “Atlanta don’t meet me there beat me there come walk with me bring your own signs.”
However, the player who has been the face of the NBA during these protests has been former Golden State Warriors player and childhood friend of Floyd, Stephen Jackson. Jackson who grew up with Floyd in Houston was quick to come to his late friend’s side and spoke about the injustice that has been occurring.
“You can’t tell me when that man had his knee on my brother’s neck, taking his life away, with his hand in his pocket, that that smirk on his face didn’t say, ‘I’m protected.”’
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show on May 28, Jackson vowed that he would get justice for his childhood friend’s death.
“You don’t want the people you’ve been brutalizing, the people you’ve been treating like trash, you don’t want them to turn around and do that on you. And that’s why America’s so scared of us. But we’re not going to do that. We come from a place of love … I’m going to get justice for my friend.”
It’s not just the players who have taken a stand. In response to Floyd’s death, The NBA Coaches Association have created a committee fully committed to combating racial injustice and reform. The committee will be led by Head Coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, Warriors Head Coach, Steve Kerr, and Los Angeles Clippers coach, Doc Rivers.
Other athletes have also been quick to show their support. Boxing superstar, Floyd Mayweather has pledged to pay for the funeral of Floyd. According to Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Mayweather personally has been in touch with the family about plans and costs for Floyd’s funeral on June 9 in Houston.
However, the NFL has had somewhat mixed reactions to the protests. New Orleans Saints quarterback and future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees seems to have lost track of what the protests are about saying that he refuses to agree with anybody who disrespects the American Flag. This sparked a lot of controversy among other athletes with NBA superstar LeBron James replying in anger in response to Brees.
Not all the NFL has been negative though. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has pledged to donate one million dollars to improve police training and fight systematic racism.
With many of the most public figures in the country standing with the rest of the nation in this fight for justice, there is hope that the injustice that is so evident may finally be seen and may be acted upon by leaders of this country.