What does a millionaire basketball player have to do with the killing of 12 year old boy? Nothing and everything.
Tamir Rice’s recent grand jury trial led to zero indictment on the part of the Cleveland police department. The boy was 12 years old, and was holding a toy gun which was mistaken for a real gun. He was shot on camera by a police officer who had previously been deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty. Despite this, and other things at play, the jury chose not to press charges against the officers.
This led to an outcry from the black community, and from social media everywhere. In the eyes of people, the justice system had failed again, and here was a 12 year old being blamed for his own death. Cleveland legend and phenom basketball player Lebron James was asked to go on strike in support of Tamir Rice.
Early this year racial protests at the University of Missouri went nowhere after months of injustice. Nothing changed until, the University of Missouri football team decided they would no longer play. The University swiftly under went changes, like firing Deans and making strides to step forward. It was a shining example of athletes (if they take a stand) can make a huge impact on social change.
Lebron James Tamir Rice Decision
Flashforward to the present, the city of Cleveland is asking Lebron to do the same thing, stop playing sports until they listen. The outcry got so large, that James was forced to respond. James first played the uninformed card which is safe. He said, “I haven’t really been on top of this issue. So it’s hard for me to comment.” While that may excuse him from not responding right away for some people, it doesn’t for me.
Playing a professional sport is a full-time job. It is not easy, and although it may be fun and rewarding, being the best (like Lebron) takes hard work and dedication. That being said, there are plenty of non-athletes who work full-time jobs are hard working, and they have time to turn on the news. They are aware of things that are national stories. Not only has the Tamir Rice incident been in the news for a full year now, it’s national news, relating to the black community, and it occurred in James’ hometown. There isn’t really any way that Lebron could not be aware of the situation. He may not know the small details, but he should know more than the average person and for that there is no excuse.
Lebron went on to say:
“But I think the most important thing that we all need to understand, the most important thing, this issue is bigger than LeBron. This issue is bigger than me; it’s about everyone. And gun violence and tragedies and kids losing lives at a young age, some way, somehow we need to understand that that matters more than just an individual.”
Yes, Lebron the issue is bigger than you, but you can make a difference. I’m not advocating that Lebron sit out the whole season or anything. Lebron James makes 20 million dollars alone on basketball, and twice as much in endorsements. Not to mention Lebron has invested in varying holdings and he recently received a lifetime contract with Nike. Last year, the San Antonio spurs were fined 250,000 for resting players that is not a small amount. If Lebron were to sit out two games, to symbolize the two bullets that Rice took before death, he might lose half a million dollars. Lebron probably gives away that much or more to charity every year anyway.
I’m aware that James might not be able to single-handedly over turn the issue. But, he could stand up and show that sports and money are not the most important thing. He could make a real difference when it comes to issues pertaining to the black community, and the power that athletes can have. And to be frank, just the amount of public appeal he would gain from doing it would probably turn into dollars in his pocket anyway.
I think one of the strongest players on the court proved himself to be weak when it mattered most. What do you think?