The death of John Lewis and C.T. Vivian on Friday, both legendary civil rights leaders in the United States, drew a variety of tributes to their contributions to justice and equality. Not all of those tributes were well received, mind you, but many in the NBA community paid their respects to Lewis in particular, starting with LeBron James.
James, preparing for the NBA’s postseason in the bubble, tweeted both about justice for Breonna Taylor and paid respects to Lewis, who died at age 80 of pancreatic cancer.
Rest. In. Paradise John Lewis. #CivilRightsICON✊🏾 THANK YOU!! 🙏🏾
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 18, 2020
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul was particularly eloquent in his words on the subject of Lewis and Vivian’s passing, speaking of the impact the men had on equality in America and the continued struggle for equity today.
via The Oklahoman:
“Today is a sad day in that we lost two of the most powerful activists that we’ve ever had in C.T. Vivian and John Lewis,” Paul said. “The impact that they had on America I think is unbelievable. And for me as a Black man, I think it’s more important for me to do my job better as a parent. I think a lot of times people look at us athletes as heroes, what we can do as far as dunking a basketball or throwing a touchdown, but the things that they did as human beings … John Lewis was one of the original 13 freedom riders, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, did the walk from Selma to Montgomery, and all of these things I don’t think we do enough learning and teaching about.
“I know that’s a lot, but that’s my truth. I think that’s more important than any of the stuff that’s going on down here.”
Paul tweeted a tribute as well.
— Chris Paul (@CP3) July 18, 2020
Paul is the latest NBA player to minimize the league’s bubble and a return to play amid coronavirus in favor of addressing racial equality and injustice, and a number of other people throughout the league also honored Lewis in the wake of his death. Bill Russell, a civil rights icon in his own right, tweeted his thoughts as well.
.@repjohnlewis was the youngest speaker @ the March on Washington & continued to fight for justice throughout his eighty years. The world has lost a great man, but the fight goes on. Honor him by restoring the #VotingRightsAct & getting in good trouble. Rest in power, my friend.
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 18, 2020
They were certainly not alone in honoring the legacy of Lewis on Saturday, something that will continue for many as various members of the league have given significant attention to the struggle for civil rights in recent months.