The entire nation is reeling after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis killed after a police officer was caught on video kneeling on his neck for over seven minutes. Floyd's death has sparked protests against police brutality, specifically against the African-American community, across the country. People are taking to the streets to educate others and demand an end to racism.
Those protests have featured a number of prominent members of the increasingly socially conscious sports community. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown evenfrom Boston to Atlanta to participate in protests there. Trae Young spoke at a peaceful protest and many others have walked with people asking for change.
Even those who did not participate in the protests directly have used their platforms to voice their opinions. Some of the biggest names in sports including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods and Alex Ovechkin are using their voices to help create a necessary change. One notable group response came from the Ohio State football team:
They were far from the only prominent athletes to speak out. Below is just a sampling of the sports world's reaction to what is happening around the country.
Dabo: "First and foremost I know that we are all hurting for the Floyd family and our country. I can speak for our entire staff and our team in that regard for sure. We have all witnessed just disgusting acts of evil. That’s really the only word I can appropriately use."— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) June 1, 2020
I’m siding with my brothers that deal, and continuously deal, with things I will never experience. The injustice is clear.. and so is the hate. It can no longer be explained away. If you’re still “explaining” it - check your heart and ask why.— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) May 29, 2020
Worlds honestly sickening. It really is..... no explanation— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) May 27, 2020
Trae Young spoke at peaceful protests.
(Some language NSFW)
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A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction. But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air. I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago. Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart. I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t? Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on. My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue. Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all. #blacklivesmatter
We need you to love black people as much as you love black culture— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) June 1, 2020
Seems some in my timeline are confused or curious. So let me be clear.— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 2, 2020
Black Lives Matter. They are hurting and upset and it’s time for me to listen.
Riots, violence, and looting is bad and needs to stop.
We all better get this shit figured out and fix it.
Love and Respect.
If anybody that follows me is not outraged about these senseless attacks on BLACK MEN, please stop following me! If your spirit is not disturbed, please stop following me! This inflicted Pain but it will never inflict FEAR... sorry, were not made like that! #BlackMenMatter pic.twitter.com/A9tSSzOSh6— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) May 27, 2020
New ESPN story: Over the weekend, Brad Stevens sat down and wrote a letter to his team. "It took me awhile to put down exactly what I wanted to say. ... What I wanted them to know is that I'm with them. I thought that was really important." https://t.co/yxJUa5DqBn— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 2, 2020
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri penned a piece that was published in the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, in response to the protests. Ujiri acknowledged the 2019 incident when a police officer stopped him from joining the Raptors on the court following their NBA championship victory.
"If it was another team president heading for the court -- a white team president -- would he have been stopped by that officer? I've wondered that," Ujiri wrote. "I recognize what happened in Oakland last June is very different from what happened in Minneapolis last Monday. My own experience only cost me a moment; Mr. Floyd's experience cost him his life."
In the NFL, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York announced that he is donating $1 million to "local and national organizations who are creating change" amid the protests.
Floyd was a friend of former NBA player Stephen Jackson.
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Twin couldn’t wait to tell me he moved to Minnesota to work and drive trucks. He knew he had to relocate to be his best self. His ❤️ was in the right place. Rest Easy Bro we gonna hold it down yo voice. All we talked about was growing and kids. Love to all who have love for all ✊🏿✊🏼✊🏽✊🏻✊🏾✊
(Some language NSFW)
JUSTICE WILL NOT BE SERVED UNTIL THOSE UNAFFECTED ARE AS OUTRAGED AS THOSE WHO ARE‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️— DWade (@DwyaneWade) May 27, 2020
George Floyd was clearly murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. How many times do we have to see black men killed on national television? This has been going on for entirely too long. We need to start seeing black people as human beings and not animals on the street.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 27, 2020
Last night, my son was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet while peacefully protesting for justice for George Floyd. His story is not unique. Countless others have also experienced this use of excessive police force while trying to have their voices heard.— Dale Murphy (@DaleMurphy3) June 1, 2020
Silence at a time like this is unacceptable, and complicit, especially from those who are privileged. Racism cannot be ignored. We can be better. We MUST be better.— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) May 29, 2020
We ALL have a responsibility if we’re going to fight systems of oppression.
Listen, love, respect, act. 💜
Simply put , America needs the majority to not just support the movement to improve race relations and how Black people are treated in this country but to speak up about it and implement measures to change itl— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 30, 2020
The UFC's Jon Jones spoke to TMZ about Floyd's death saying, "Anyone who has practiced the very basics of jujitsu recognizes a [blood choke] when they see this. That was as clear as day murder, torture."
"What that man went through was worse than drowning," Jones added. "I wouldn't wish the way George Floyd was murdered on my worst enemy. That officer applied just enough pressure to keep him alive for almost six minutes in that chokehold. In all my years of fighting I can honestly say I've never experienced anything close to that level of torture."