It may have just been a picture.
But what a picture it was.
On Friday afternoon, LeBron James took to twitter with the following tweet:
“WeAreTrayvonMartin #Hoodies #Stereotyped #WeWantJustice.”
The tweet was followed by a link, showing the above picture. The Miami Heat team dawning hoodies, in tribute to the fallen Trayvon Martin, whose death has sparked debate all across America. Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman, on February 26th. Zimmerman admitted to the shooting, in what he claims was self defence. Martin was allegedly wearing a hoodie, with the hood on and had his hands in his pocket, just having come from purchasing Skittles and Ice Tea from a local convenience store. Martin is found dead with no weapons, and because of the claim of self defence, Zimmerman was not arrested, and has yet to be. The decisions over the last month has caused controversy across America, and now the World.
Sometimes, there are special moments in sports. These moments have little to do with the game outcome, the points one scores or the highlights that come from it. They have to do with transcendence of celebrity beyond the court or ice or field. LeBron James and his Heat teammates had one of these special moments today.
James in particular is not looked upon fondly by the outside community because “The Decision.” We all know the backlash he received from it, and has further received as a result of his words, actions and motives. Today athletes have become hesitant to venture into controversies beyond the sport they play. It’s fair, given the nature of this 24/7 news cycle where every opinion, thought and really, word is scrutinized beyond fairness. In the old days, it was the star players – the Muhammad Ali’s, the Michael Jordan’s, the Bill Russell’s- who stood up for issues outside of sports, but things had changed.
It really was an “I can’t believe they did this” moment for me, but in a good way. We often expect athletes to be there in every situations. It’s unfair, yes. But it’s what we expect. They’re larger than life, and more often than not, act like it. Again, probably fair. Athletes today understand the way the world works. It’s hard to throw yourself at an issue unless you’re fully educated, because you know you’ll be made to look stupid if you’re wrong about something. It was James himself that faced days of scrutiny over contraction comments made in 2010. It didn’t take a lot of education for James and the Heat however, to get behind Trayvon Martin.
“A lot of us are fathers, a lot of us have young boys. And for us to be in the position we’re in, we’re happy to be able to shed light on the situation,” said James following the Heat’s 88-73 win Friday against the Pistons. James and several Heat teammates continued the tribute during the game with.
Dwyane Wade shared in James sentiments earlier Friday.
“I’m a father. It’s support of the tragic thing that has taken place. No matter what color, race, we’re all fathers. When you think about what that family’s going through, it hits you hard and it hurts your heart to think about it. Just anything you can do, obviously we can’t bring him back, but anything you can do to get behind and support is what we’re doing.”
You can’t help but look at this picture and simply clap. Clap for the fact that some of the worlds greatest and most popular athletes used their notoriety and fame for good. Not personal good, not team good, not business good. Just plain good.
James and his teammates were throwing themselves in the middle of the controversy, knowing that endorsements, reputation and backlash was on the line.
They didn’t care.
They should be proud they didn’t.