In the wake of true nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Bubba Wallace, the only full-time African-American driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, appeared on the Dale Jr. Download podcast to speak about racial injustice and an athlete's role in speaking out about such topics. The conversation did not only include cases of police brutality against the black community in America, but also included Kyle Larson saying the .
What came out of that conversation was a painful childhood story of Wallace's experience dealing with police brutality. Cops shot the 23-year-old's cousin in 2003 when the driver was nine years old.
"I was running around the gym with all the other brothers and sisters there, and all of a sudden, I hear a scream - like the worst scream that you'd want to hear," Wallace told Dale Earnhardt Jr. and podcast co-host Mike Davis. "Not like a somebody-scared-you scream, like something bad had just happened. And I look over and I see my mom running out the door, and we had just found out my cousin had been shot and killed by a police officer. Unarmed.
"And so I was young. I didn't understand it. We lost a family member. But now seeing everything come full circle, I totally get it now."
Wallace explains how a white store clerk felt threatened by a group of black teenagers that his cousin was a part of, and called the police as a result. After the cop told Wallace's cousin, named Sean, to put his hands up and walked away, Sean went to grab his cell phone to call his mom. At that point, the officer shot Sean out of fear.
Wallace also detailed some of his personal experiences in dealing with police.
"I've dealt with my struggles, you know, directly of getting pulled up at stoplights ... and having guns drawn - not pointed at me but they're out of their holster ready to do something. And that moment, being pulled out in front of and turning on your hazards is a sign that you're slow and I need to go around you. But when it's undercover cops, you can't do that. And when it's tinted windows, they don't know what to expect, so they're ready for anything. So one wrong move, I wouldn't be here talking to you today.
"And then the comments after - and this is where we can help so many people - it's the comments that they made towards me that piss me off the most. 'Can you afford this car? This is a nice car.' And I said, 'Yes, sir, I can.'
"And what I wanted to say is, 'Yeah, I'll have you one here Monday, I'll have your momma here one on Tuesday and I'll have the rest of your family [one] here on Wednesday because that's how much money I make.' But I didn't. I let it go because one wrong move, because I'm black, could have had me on the pavement saying, 'I can't breathe.'"
Wallace and the No. 43 team head to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday for the next stop on the revised Cup Series calendar for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. The race is set to start at 3 p.m. ET.