By KARMA ALLEN, ABC News
(ORLANDO, Fla.) — LeBron James praised the Black Lives Matter “lifestyle” and doubled down on calls for justice as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to court for the first time since play was suspended because of the pandemic.
James made the comments on Thursday after the team’s scrimmage against the Dallas Mavericks in Orlando, using his platform “to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor,” a young Black medical worker who was fatally shot by plainclothes officers in her Louisville home in March.
“As one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know, and I want the state of Kentucky to know, that we feel for her and we want justice,” James told reporters. “That’s what it’s all about. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong.”
James, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, reiterated his previous calls to arrest the police officers who killed Taylor, 26, but he also spoke the names of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally shot by a white neighborhood watch volunteer who routinely called the police to report anything remotely suspicious, according to police.
James also spoke about George Floyd, 46, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police earlier this year during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, police said.
Members of the NBA, which restarted its season this week after a four-month hiatus, have been some of Taylor’s most outspoken proponents.
“It’s unfortunate that — well, it’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video, to see it. I mean, is that what we need to see, a video of Breonna being killed, for people to realize how bad the situation is?” James asked. “I never shied away from being who I am and speaking about things that not only affect me, hit home for me, but also affect my community and affect Black people. ‘Cause we’ve been going through it a lot.”
Separately, the Lakers star made a point to highlight that, in his opinion, the Black Lives Matter fight against racism and police brutality should not be classified as “a movement.”
“I don’t like the word ‘movement,"” he said, adding that he for Black people he considers it a “lifestyle.”
“This is a walk of life. When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement — it should be a lifestyle. This is who we are,” James said. “And we understand that, and we know that for one step someone else might have to take … we know we gotta take five more steps.”
“But also that’s what makes us strong, it makes us powerful, makes us so unique and unified — that we’ve had so much hardship in our life, either from personal experiences or loved ones or reading history,” he added.
James ended his press conference by saying: “We’ll end this with, justice for Breonna Taylor. We’re gonna continue to harp on that. I appreciate it.”
Other high-profile NBA players, including Lakers teammates Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso, have used their media time to demand justice for Taylor this week as the members of the press gathered in Orlando to cover the restart of the season.
Taylor’s death on March 13 sent shockwaves throughout Kentucky. Louisville police officers had executed a no-knock search warrant and used a battering ram to forcefully enter the young woman’s apartment.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, got out of bed around midnight when they heard a commotion outside. Walker called 911, thinking there was an intruder, and fired his gun in self-defense, saying he thought his home was being broken into, according to a civil lawsuit.
The plainclothes officers returned gunfire, firing several shots and fatally hitting Taylor, police said.
It was later revealed that police had been looking for two men they believed were selling drugs out of a home near Taylor’s. Police obtained a no-knock warrant to search Taylor’s apartment because they had reason to believe that the men had used her apartment to receive packages.
One of the officers, Brett Hankison, was fired in June amid intense public pressure. Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, the other officers involved, were placed on administrative reassignment, but civil rights activists have said all three men should be charged.
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