The ESPY Awards used the platform to send a message on the recent Black Lives Matter protests and police shootings of African-American men, with a quartet of athletes taking the stage Wednesday night.
“We stand here tonight accepting our role in uniting communities,” said Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. “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 officer, who is one of the hundreds of thousands of great officers serving this country. But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile — this is also our reality.”
“The racial profiling has to stop,” said NBA star Dwyane Wade. “The shoot to kill mentality has to stop. 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. Enough is enough.”
“We all feel frustrated and helpless by the violence,” said LeBron James. “We do.”
“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,” James added. “And most importantly, go back to our communities and invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better.”
Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also spoke alongside Paul, Wade and James. The ESPY Awards are airing live on ABC.