'Justice for George Floyd': Sporting world unites against racism
For a country that has seen a disturbing rise in cases of racial discrimination in the past few years, the US can still count on its array of sporting icons in the fight against prejudice and bigotry.
And once again, it's their sporting heroes that have raised their voice after a black man named George Floyd became the latest victim of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparking widespread protest across the country.
The first superstar to join the protest following the death of Floyd was none other than NBA legend Lebron James.
Taking to social media, James shared two pictures to prove why the foundations of the world's largest democracy are often shaken by pettiest minds.
"This... ... Is Why," the Los Angeles playmaker said on Instagram as he posted a picture of the police officer that kept his knee on the neck of the handcuffed and unarmed Floyd and another picture of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick's kneeling protest against racial injustice in 2016.
James's message resonated with 16-year-old Coco Gauff whose stirring run to the fourth round of the 2019 Wimbledon had announced the arrival of a rising star in the world of tennis.
I promise to always use my platform to help make the world a better place.- Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) May 28, 2020
"Am I next," Gauff asked in a TikTok video showing images of countless black Americans that had lost their lives due to growing intolerance.
"I promise to always use my platform to help make the world a better place," Gauff later wrote on Twitter.
Gauff found support from the Florida-based Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka.
The two-time Grand Slam winner, who was born to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, shared an image of the Minnesota streets and said: "If you stand for nothing you fall for everything."
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My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again.??#ICANTBREATHE (repost/photo credit unknown) plz tag ?? Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short. Let's share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people. Drive out hate. Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER ??
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant ?? (@vanessabryant) on
Meanwhile, NHL star Blake Wheeler, who captains Winnipeg Jets, was distraught after seeing the protests that broke out demanding justice for Floyd whose dying words 'I can't breathe' have sent shivers down the spine of the black community.
"My hometown is burning. Businesses where I grew up are being boarded up. America is not OK," Wheeler wrote on Twitter.
"I'm heartbroken that we still treat people this way. We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism."
Echoing Wheeler's sentiments, the iconic Michael Jordan said: "I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough."
The protests hasn't been restricted to the American borders.
Lewis Hamilton, Formula One's first black world champion, slammed other F1 drivers for their silence.
"I see those of you who are staying silent, some of you the biggest of stars yet you stay silent in the midst of injustice," the British driver wrote on Instagram.
"Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white-dominated sport. I'm one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone.
"I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can't stand alongside us. Just know I know who you are and I see you."
Hamilton's message came a day after his compatriot Jadon Sancho, the 20-year-old footballer who plays Borussia Dortmund, had paid a tribute to Floyd after scoring the first hat trick of his career on Sunday.
Sancho celebrated one of his goals with the 'Justice for George Floyd' message on his shirt.
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Solid performance from the team!! Delighted to get my first career hat trick, a bittersweet moment personally as there are more important things going on in the world today that we must address and help make a change. We shouldn't fear speaking out for what's right, we have to come together as one & fight for justice. We are stronger together! ?? #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd ????
A post shared by Jadon Sancho (@sanchooo10) on
Sancho wasn't the first Bundesliga player to join the Justice for George Floyd movement.
Borussia Moenchengladbach's French striker Marcus Thuram, the son of World Cup legend Lilian Thuram, took a knee and bowed his head after scoring a goal as a mark of respect to Floyd.
Moenchengladbach coach Marco Rose was moved by Thuram's tribute.
"Marcus has made the point," Rose said.
"He has set an example against racism that we all support!"
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