In 2012, Martin was tragically shot and killed by George Zimmerman while walking back to the home of his relatives in a gated community. Zimmerman was charged with murder for Martin’s death, but he was acquitted at trial after claiming self-defense.
Martin’s death prompted James and the Heat to speak out against unnecessary violence and stereotyping.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 23, 2012
James recently reflected on the matter.
“We [sat] on top of the biggest throne in the sport,” James said to ESPN. “Every single media outlet — good, bad, whatever — talked about the Miami Heat, the Heatles. Myself, [Dwyane] Wade, [Chris] Bosh, everybody, [coach Erik Spoelstra]. They all talked about us every single day.
“… We had an opportunity to make a statement. We had an opportunity to really raise awareness to a situation that hit home for a lot of us, because a lot of us had kids. A lot of us had sons.”
James and his teammates’ activism was important, as they realized that it could have been one of their kids in a similar situation. James has been extremely outspoken on police brutality and unnecessary violence used against people of color.
“We were sitting in Detroit, and we were like, ‘Could you imagine if you sent your kid out and he didn’t return home?'” James said. “Send your kid out anywhere — go to a game or go to school or go to the store — and he didn’t return home? And it just, it struck us.”
It’s believed by many that Martin was profiled in part because he was wearing a hoodie, so James and his Heat teammates made a point of wearing team hoodies wherever they went.
“Everywhere that we went, we always traveled in our Miami Heat hoodies,” James said. “Everywhere we went. That was like our uniform. When we traveled on the road, we had a Miami Heat hoodie on. When we came down for our team meetings, we were always unified [wearing the hoodies].”
This isn’t the only time that James has been outspoken against racial injustice, as he was one of the most prominent NBA players to speak out against the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
It is great to see that the Heat organization allowed James and his teammates to use their platform to try to raise awareness and make the world a better place.