Unfortunately, the United States is currently facing a time of great civil unrest, but the people refuse to stay silent. Chaos rages across the nation in the form of protests and riots because of George Floyd’s tragic and abhorrent death. Elite athletes and sports stars are speaking out in solidarity with the nation wounded. Many famous people refuse to remain silent because they see the need to help.
In short, they’re using their platforms as a way to get in touch with ordinary people and inspire them. Others are actively taking to the streets to make a difference on the ground. Today, we’re going to take a look at how 25 sports stars have spoken out during the current turmoil. We recently touched on teammate feuds that rocked professional sports, but this is a much bigger issue plaguing the United States since it began.
They’re loud, visible, and refusing to back down. Check out their socially conscious efforts below.
25. Lloyd Pierce
Pierce and Dwane Casey both released powerful statements regarding the right to peaceful protest. The Atlanta Hawks coach has seen and experienced a lot throughout his life and wants to speak out. He believes that it’s important to say something. Pierce was shaken by the current unrest.
“You may have seen the George Floyd incident, but have you heard your best friend or the dude you work with or the lady you work with speak about her fear every day, not just that day? Every day, because of this, for me, and what I’ve tried to express, this is where it’s important that I say something. It’s important that we all say something.”
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is one of the most visible soccer stars on the planet. He’s best known for his wild fashion and mercurial talents, but the World Cup Winner is also heavily involved in promoting civil rights in his native France.
Hailing from the deeply-divided suburbs of Paris, Pogba understands where the unrest in the US comes from.
He wrote on Instagram:
“Violent acts of racism can no longer be tolerated. I can’t tolerate. I won’t tolerate. We won’t tolerate. Racism is ignorance. LOVE is intelligence.”
Woods is the most famous golfer in the world. He has battled stereotypes as a mixed-race athlete coming through the ranks of a sport dominated by privileged white people. However, he uses his visibility as a platform to speak out against injustice in the world.
Like many athletes, Woods tweeted about the civil unrest. He supported marchers but also pleaded for peace:
“We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods that we live in,” Woods said. “I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”
A proud son of Atlanta, Georgia, Brogdon is back in his home city so he can join the ongoing movement. He believes that it’s important for elite athletes to use their privilege for good. Brogdon is a leader and took to the streets to motivate fellow citizens.
His grandfather also matched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. Brogdon told the crowd:
“This isn’t something where we come and … we don’t have to burn down our homes. We built this city. This is the most proudly black city in the world. In the world, man. Let’s take some pride in that. Let’s focus our energy.”
San Antonio Spurs star Walker didn’t want to sit on the sidelines after he saw the damage to the city center. He helped to clean up the damage from the unrest as he power-sprayed graffiti off of the city walls. In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, he made his intentions clear.
“I’m just trying to be another human being playing my part,” Walker told the paper. “I am not Lonnie Walker who plays for the Spurs. I am not an NBA player. I’m just a regular human being trying to do what we are supposed to do, and that’s to create peace, positivity, and joy throughout everybody’s lives.”
The son of the legendary French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, Marcus has developed into an excellent player in his own right. Currently starring for Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga, he seized the moment to show his support for black Americans during the current unrest.
Thuram scored in a 4-1 win over Union Berlin. Immediately, he took a knee in solidarity for the memory of George Floyd. The Frenchman became the first soccer player in Germany to take this step. Despite his good intentions, the league will likely reprimand him for political messaging.
Boston Celtic Kanter has experienced firsthand the perils of speaking out. Turkey is attempting to extradite him after he condemned President Erdogan. He believes that if he returns to his parents’ country government agents will poison him. Despite this, he still continues to speak out.
He attended a rally in Boston where he spoke to the crowd and encouraged their efforts. Then he made his feelings clear on social media. He tweeted:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Proud to be an ally with my brothers and sisters in Boston and all over the United States.”
The Washington Wizards were one of the first NBA clubs to stand behind black Americans in the current unrest. Beal also took the time to make his own statement. He spoke out because President Trump took aim at the unrest and threatened to set the military on citizens exercising First Amendment rights.
He was furious at the President’s words and scoffed at them. This is also a busy time for Beal as he considers whether or not to stay in Washington. It is likely he will stay with the Wizards. It’s also clear that he feels incredibly loyal to the city.
Kerr has come out strongly against the current administration in this current period of unrest. First of all, he slated Vice President Mike Pence for saying he supported the right to peaceful protest. After all, Pence famously left a 2017 NFL game after Colin Kapernick took a knee.
He then took aim at President Trump.
“It’s been really demoralizing to feel the divide that exists in the country, and especially when that divide is exacerbated by our President on a daily basis, on an hourly basis,” Kerr told ESPN. “I’m frustrated, I’m humiliated, but I’m also determined to try to do more.”
Until Dillon spoke out, the NASCAR community was largely silent about the unrest. His sport has always had a negative reputation towards race, but the 28-year-old still tried to use his platform to connect with the fanbase in a positive way.
Going into Sunday afternoon’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Ty Dillon was the only white Cup Series driver to speak about George Floyd on social media and offer a substantial statement against systemic racism. In a lengthy Instagram post, Dillon wrote about racism, religion, and his own white privilege.
Williams is tennis’s leading lady, but she’s a lot more than that. A cultural icon, she has endured unbelievable hate and prejudice throughout her athletic career. Despite this, she has remained strong and defiant as she rose to become a superstar in every sense of the word.
She’s also a strong social critic. Williams tweeted Nike’s powerful ‘Don’t Do It’ video along with the message: “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America”. This isn’t the first time she has stood up for black rights as she regularly speaks out against abuses across the nation.
As one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, Liverpool FC connects with millions of fans on social media. The team is back in training as restrictions relating to the recent health crisis ease. The squad decided to make a statement to show they stood in solidarity.
Key players Virgil Van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum were the orchestrators of the decision to pay tribute. The entire squad formed a circle and took a knee in the center of their home stadium Anfield. It was a powerful move from the Premier League leaders.
Towns lost his mother to illness only a few weeks ago. However, despite this tragedy, he’s still able to stand up for the causes he believes in. The Minnesota Timberwolves star is not shy in letting people know about his views. That’s why he attended a rally during the current unrest.
He went to one in Minneapolis with Josh Okogie and ex-NBA player Stephen Jackson, who is a close friend of George Floyd. Fans have praised Towns for his selflessness in a period where he suffered a close personal loss. Despite this, he still wants to make the world a better place.
Mayweather officially retired from boxing with an undefeated record of 50-0. Most regard him as the greatest defensive boxer of all-time. However controversial you find him, there is no doubt he’s incredibly famous and influential. But he’s also got a heart as he showed the Floyd family.
Mayweather Jr. offered to pay for three funeral ceremonies to honor the untimely death of George Floyd. Furthermore, his family has accepted this gracious offer. It’s easy to dislike Mayweather for actions he’s taken in the past, but this is definitely something that deserves respect.
Sancho plays in Germany for Borussia Dortmund but is one of England’s most outstanding talents. The German Bundesliga is also one of the few active pro sports leagues in the world right now. Sancho sadly knows all about racial abuse after receiving abuse as a young athlete.
Sancho decided to use his platform to send a message. After scoring the first of three goals against Paderborn, he ripped off his shirt to reveal a message in support of George Floyd. The referee gave him a yellow card for taking off his jersey during the game, but he didn’t care.
Brown is one of the Boston Celtics’ most exciting talents. He’s also a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. In short, leadership is in his DNA. After seeing the uprising in countless cities, he drove 15 hours to Georgia to join the movement.
“This is a peaceful protest,” he explained to ESPN. “Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community. … We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.”
Gauff is just 16 years old, but she’s on the way to becoming one of the biggest sports stars in the world. She looks set to inherit Serena Williams’ mantle as a female superstar and also as a civil rights leader. Gauff has used her platform to speak out against brutality towards black citizens in the United States.
In a video, she referenced a number of unarmed black Americans who died in recent years at the hands of authorities or white fellow citizens. Gauff wrote: “Am I Next?” in a haunting message that sums up exactly how grim the situation is for many people in America.
In a sport overwhelmingly dominated by caucasian drivers, Hamilton is an outlier. The Formula One superstar has contended with stereotypes and prejudice during his career. However, the lack of response from the Formula One community enraged him.
He wrote on Instagram:
“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. 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.
UFC middleweight champion Adesanya is one of the most exciting fighters on the planet. He’s also extremely proud of his heritage. The Nigerian-born New Zealander took to the streets of Auckland to support the plight of black people globally.
In an impassioned speech, he said:
“We’ve been marching for so long. But it’s not just about us now. Shout out to all the white people, all the people of different races being here because we need you. We need you to speak up.” His words definitely touched the hearts of the crowd.
James is a legendary basketball player. He’s a lot more than that, being a major civil rights activist who frequently speaks out in support of disadvantaged black Americans. Having endured a difficult childhood, he knows firsthand the difficulties and adversity people of color face on a day-to-day basis.
The Lakers’ star has been audible throughout the current period of unrest. He took to Twitter as thousands made their presence felt across the nation. James tweeted:
“Why Doesn’t America Love US!!!!!????TOO.” With almost 60 million Instagram followers and 44 million on Twitter, his message is a loud one.
Osaka has lent her voice to the ongoing unrest. Half-Japanese, half-Haitian, she knows better than most how race can define you. The tennis superstar spent most of the past few weeks posting pictures by the swimming pool but has now entered the fray.
“Just because it isn’t happening to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s funny to me that the people who wanna wear chains, blast hip hop in the gym, attempt to get dapped up, and talk in slang are suddenly quiet right now.”
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones made headlines when he intervened a riot in Albuquerque. The New York native has spent the majority of his career in the New Mexican capital and is fiercely protective of it. So when he saw youngsters spraypainting private businesses, he wasn’t happy.
He cajoled the young thugs into walking away and even intimidated one into handing over his can of paint. Later Jones wrote a lengthy Instagram post condemning mindless violence. Jones sees it as counterproductive and takes away from the central message of the current social movement.
It’s rare that Jordan sends out a political message so you know things are bad when he gets to that point. The Chicago Bulls icon famously refused to condemn racists in the past when he said that they buy sneakers too. Furthermore, he’s also notoriously private when it comes to his personal life.
However, even Jordan has spoken out about the ongoing unrest in the US. He wrote:
“We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.”
One of Trump’s harshest critics, Popovich was unsparing in his words about the President’s handling of the current unrest. First of all, Popovich called the president a “deranged idiot,” a “fool” and a “destroyer.” In short, he believes that Trump’s response has only heightened tensions.
“It’s unbelievable,” Popovich told The Nation. “If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him.”
The NBA’s only six-time MVP and top overall scorer is a noted civil rights activist. He wrote a lengthy op-ed for the Los Angeles Times to speak at length about the treatment of black Americans. First of all, he said that it was wrong to loot and destroy but also it should be remembered black citizens are suffering disproportionately.
Abdul-Jabbar wrote passionately about police brutality and urged people to ‘rush to justice’ in a strongly-worded message. The former Milwaukee Buck said that racism is like ‘dust in the air’ because you can’t see it until you’re choking on it. Finally, his hope that a traumatized country must recover and learn from this unrest.