LeBron James And 7 Other Athletes Who Couldn't Escape Racism
A day before the start of the NBA Finals, LeBron James was expected to talk only about basketball.
Instead, on Wednesday, James spoke to reporters about the n-word being spray painted onto the front gate of his California home.
Speaking before the media, he offered a reflection,
No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star's message was pretty straightforward. No amount of fame or fortune can make you immune to racism.
What happened at James' home should only be a reminder of that fact, not a revelation of it. That is to say, the point he expressed should already be known.
Simply put, there are a number of incidents well-known athletes have faced that prove what LeBron says to be true: You can't rich away discrimination.
Here's are a number of those incidents.
Adam Jones at Fenway
At the beginning of May, Jones spoke out about how he had been on the receiving end of racial epithets from members of the crowd at Boston's Fenway Park.
A couple of weeks later, he reflected on the incident for The Players Tribune,
Well, it's 2017, and some people are still just stupid. I've heard plenty of stuff on a baseball field over the years. You expect trash talk from fans. Sometimes you even enjoy it. But to be out there playing the game you love, and to hear somebody call you the n-word? To have peanuts thrown at you, like you're not even a human being? It's disgusting.
It wasn't the first time Jones was the at the center of such a story. In 2013, a fan threw a banana at him in San Francisco.
Michael Rose-Ivey at Nebraska
Last September, the Nebraska linebacker spoke about the backlash he received from fans of his university's football team after multiple players on the roster knelt during the national anthem.
Some believe DaiShon, Mohamed, and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some say we deserve to be lynched or shot, just like the other black people that have died recently. Another believe that, since we didn't want to stand for the anthem, then we should be hung before the anthem for the next game. These are actual statements we received from fans.
Like James, Rose-Ivey prefaced his statement by telling reporters that despite the status he enjoys as an athlete at his school, he still "endured racism."
Thabo Sefolosha and the NYPD
In 2015, after the NBA player was wrongly arrested outside a Manhattan nightclub, Sefolosha and his lawyers fought a case that they described as an instance of racial profiling and police brutality.
The arrest resulted in Sefolosha missing the 2015 NBA playoffs because of an injury suffered while officers arrested him. After he deemed not guilty at the end of his initial trial, he said.
Justice was served yesterday, it pains me to think about all of the innocent people who aren't fortunate enough to have the resources, visibility, and access to quality legal counsel that I have had.
Here, Sefolosha made clear that he had the money to defend himself. But the money did nothing to prevent his wrongful arrest from happening.
Young Tiger Woods
Tiger appeared on national TV when he was just a toddler. While he was in grade school, he was known to win tournaments against players who were two years older than him.
By the time he was 14, he was so well-known within golf circles that he was touted as the next phenom. It was at that age that he gave an interview to Trans World Sport about his rise.
When asked whether he feels any prejudice while playing, a young Tiger Woods said,
Every time I go to a major country club I can always feel it. Always sense it. People always staring at me. 'What are you doing here? You shouldn't be here.' When I go to Texas or Florida you always feel it. They say, 'What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here.' And that's probably because that's where all the slavery was.
Magic Johnson and Donald Sterling
As a businessman and part-owner of multiple franchises, Magic Johnson was a peer of Donald Sterling, the disgraced former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Yet, how Sterling talked about Johnson in private was telling.
The NBA legend was still at the center of a scandal that started with the revelation of an audio tape on which Sterling appeared to ask a mistress to not bring black people, like Johnson, to Clippers games.
Serena Williams at Indian Wells
In 2015, Serena ended her boycott of the tournament at Indian Wells. The tennis legend had avoided playing at the California-based event since 2001, when an ugly episode saw her roundly booed during the final of the tournament.
The backstory was that her sister, Venus, had pulled out of the tournament amid rumors that their father, Richard Williams, fixed matches to help one of the sisters win.
In a Time magazine column, Serena said she felt their was an "undercurrent of racism" to the boos she received all match long.
Meanwhile, her father claimed he and Venus were the subject of racist taunts on the same day. Richard Williams told USA Today,
When Venus and I were walking down the stairs to our seats, people kept calling me [expletive]. One guy said, 'I wish it was '75; we'd skin you alive.' That's when I stopped and walked toward that way. Then I realized that [my] best bet was to handle the situation non-violently. I had trouble holding back tears. I think Indian Wells disgraced America.
Mario Balotelli all over
There is no one incident to point to when it comes to the types of racist chants soccer star Mario Balotelli has faced.
He was subjected to racist taunts in Italy, his home nation where he used to play, and, earlier this year, he faced similar chants in France, where he currently plays.
Regarding the January incident, the player wrote on Instagram,
So is racism LEGAL in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport .. those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!
Ultimately Balotelli is just one of a number of athletes who has proven that no amount of money and fame could make one immune to racism.
Citations: Police investigating racial slur sprayed on gate at L.A. home of LeBron James (ESPN)