WATCH: LeBron, Melo, CP3, Wade open ESPYs with speech on nonviolence

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade at the ESPYs
Four NBA stars stand together at the ESPYs. ABC

Wednesday's ESPYs opened with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on a stage side by side, dressed in black. One by one, they took turns speaking out about violence, racism and the need for athletes to take a stand.

"The system is broken," Anthony said. "The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high."

"We stand before you as fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, uncles, and in my case as an African-American man and the nephew of a police offer who is one of the hundreds of thousands of great officers serving this country," Paul said, "but Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, LaQuon McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile -- this is also our reality."

"The shoot to kill mentality has to stop," Wade said. "Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough."

"Tonight we're honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT," James said, "but to do his legacy any justice, let's use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence. And most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better."

Here's the entire thing:

Former president Bill Clinton tweeted that he was inspired by Anthony, Paul, Wade and James:

Last Friday, Anthony took to Instagram to call athletes to action. Earlier Wednesday, The Guardian published an op-ed by Anthony on the same subject. In it, he said that he will try to get the members of Team USA to make some sort of statement at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He did not mention anything about the ESPYs, but it is clear that he is going to keep finding ways to spread this message.

In both the Instagram post and the op-ed, Anthony mentioned that athletes should not be afraid of talking about politics or speaking their minds. Along with his superstar friends, he is putting his money where his mouth is.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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