A day prior to his seventh straight NBA Finals and third with the Cavaliers, LeBron James was the victim of a hate crime when his Los Angeles home was vandalized early Wednesday morning. A racial slur was spray painted on the front gate of his home, and thankfully neither he or his family were there or harmed in anyway.
On Wednesday afternoon at Finals media day, James addressed the situation and spoke measuredly but also passionately about what had happened and the continued racial issues facing the country.
James’ comments were heartfelt and spoke to how this was not just an issue he faced, but the public manifestation of racism and hate that faces African-Americans every day.
“As I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest sporting events we have in sports, race and what’s going on comes again, and on my behalf and my family’s behalf. But I look at it as this, I mean if this is to shed a light and continue to keep the conversation going on my behalf then I’m okay with it. And my family is safe, at the end of the day, they’re safe and that’s the most important. It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. And hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day. Even though that it’s concealed most of the time, people hide their faces and say things about you, and when they see you they’ll smile to your face, it’s alive every single day.
“I think back to Emmett Till’s mom, actually. It’s one of the first things I thought of, and the reason she had an open casket is she wanted to show the world what she went through as a hate crime and being black in America. No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. And we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America. But my family is safe, and that’s what’s important.”
The pain James was dealing with was clear, mostly that he wasn’t able to be with his family following the hateful actions directed against him.
“I’ll be focused tomorrow on our game plan and focused on these games, but I’m at a point in my life where my priorities are in place, and basketball comes second to my family,” James said. “It actually comes after me continuing to be a role model to the youth and what I do as far as with my foundation. I will be as focused as I can be on the job at hand tomorrow. But this is a situation where it puts me back in place of what’s actually more important, and basketball is not the most important thing in my life.
“I think the most unfortunate part is that I’m here right now and I can’t be home to see my boys right now. My little girl’s too young to actually understand it right now. But I can’t sit in front of my boys right now and I won’t be home until next week. This is kind of killing me inside right now. But my wife is unbelievable, my mother, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law, they’re going to do a great job of talking to them when they get home from school. Because of Apple being so great, I can FaceTime them, but I like to do face-to-face conversations when it comes with a situation like this. I’ve talked about this before, having two sons, two sons that have great minds and they’re very open to life and love life and things of that nature. So, for me to be able just to try and give them the blueprint as much as I can on what life has to offer, but at the end of the day they have to walk their own path and hopefully I give them enough life skills so that when they’re on their journey and they’re ready to fly they can fly on their own.”
James is hoping that this continues to further the conversation about how deep the racial divide in the country runs, noting that it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have, hate remains a significant issue for all black people in America.
“I mean, obviously you see I’m not my normal, energetic self. It will pass. That’s fine. I’m figuring it out. I’m thinking about my kids a lot. Obviously I’m not in front of them, but my wife, she’s the Energizer Bunny of the family and she said everything’s fine. So that helps me out a lot. Time heals all, and at the end of the day, like I said, if this incident that happened to my family today can keep the conversation going and can shine light on us finding a way to keep progressing and not regressing, I’m not against it happening to us again, as long as my family’s safe.”
The statement from James was a powerful one and one that hopefully resonates with those that choose to try and turn a blind eye to the racism that is far too prevalent in the country today.