What a way to start the 2016 ESPYs.
As Wednesday night’s festivities began, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade opened the show by speaking on the recent police shootings. Together they urged their fellow athletes to be active socially.
“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to follow in their footsteps,” said Paul.
“The problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new, but the urgency for change is definitely at an all-time high,” the New York Knick said.
Wade, who just signed a deal with the Chicago Bulls, said “The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.”
James closed the speech by asking all athletes to unite for the greater good and make use of their influential platform.
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT,” he said. “But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence and, most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better.”
The ESPYS aired on ABC and the network will also host a Town Hall meeting with President Obama on race relations on Thursday night.
Watch the opening of the 2016 ESPYs up top.
SOURCE: YouTube | IMAGE CREDIT: Getty