Many in the NBA world are springing into action following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota while in police custody last week. In Atlanta, Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon joined together to share powerful messages at a peaceful protest, while Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce took on a leadership role within the NBA Coaches Association that included a statement on the ‘weaponization of racism.’
Though Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young was back in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, rather than in Atlanta, the 21-year-old superstar more than did his part by hosting a peaceful protest against police brutality on Monday. The day began with Young simply putting out a call to join him at Andrews Park in Norman.
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) June 1, 2020
Once the gathering commenced, Young took the microphone and spoke to those assembled.
Trae Young’s speech at the Norman rally. pic.twitter.com/yNcLgdz32R
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) June 1, 2020
“I’m not used to doing this,” Young said at the outset oft he speech. “I’m not very open about what I see or the things that go on in this world very often. But for me, even though I’m 21 years old, I feel that it was necessary. And this is bigger than me. I feel like this is a big step in the right direction. I grew up here in Norman. Everywhere I go, I try to represent this city as best I can.”
Young, who also played his college basketball in Norman as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners, also shared a personal statement over social media during the weekend. This time, however, his thoughts were shared publicly and with passion.
“I know this country is in a messed up place right now,” Young continued. “For me, I just think it’s important that we all stick together and we stand up for what’s right. It’s not just gonna take just me. It’s not just gonna take just you. It’s all of us coming together and doing this as a collective unit. I feel like justice will be served and changes will be made if we all come together. This is us doing it. This is the first step. I’m happy that everybody came out here today and proud to be here. Proud to be from Norman, Oklahoma. I grew up here. And so for me, I didn’t wanna come up here and talk too much. But I pray every day that justice will be served for George and his family. Not just him, it’s hundreds and hundreds of other people. Breonna Taylor, everybody. It’s not just them. This has gotta change. Thank you guys for letting me talk and I just want to say: no justice, no peace.”
Later, Young returned to Twitter to send an additional message.
The Hawks may not return to action in 2019-20, with a looming possibility that the NBA will restart without them when moving to Orlando. Still, Young has carved out notoriety for his fantastic and exciting play and, in this moment, he rose to the occasion with important leadership in the community.