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On a day where Nas penned an open letter to President Trump addressing racism in the country, the most famous athlete in the world had to deal with a hate crime. Late this morning (May 31), reports surfaced of LeBron James' Los Angeles residence being vandalized. The word "nigger" was spraypainted on his gate by one or more unknown assailants. The word was painted over within hours of its discovery, and police are still investigating the incident.
James addressed the heinous incident in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
"I look at it as this: if this to shed a light and continue to keep the conversation going, on my behalf, then I'm OK with it," he said. "My family is safe, at the end of the day that's most important. But it just goes to show that racism will always be part of the world, part of America. And hate in America, especially for an African American, is living every day. Even though it's concealed most of the time, people hide their faces and will say things about you and when they see you they smile in your face. It's alive every single day."
"I think back to Emmett Till's mom, actually," he continued, speaking about the young black child who was beaten and lynched by racist white men. "It's kind of one of the first things I thought about actually. The reason why she had an open casket [at his funeral] is because she wanted to show the world what her son went through, as far a hate crime and being black in America. No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being Black in America is tough. We got a long way to go for us in a society and us as African Americans until we feel equal in America. But my family is safe. That's what's important."
Afterwards, James reiterated his sentiments during a one-on-one interview with ESPN.
"Surprising? No," he answered stoically when asked about the incident. "I still understand how race still plays a huge part in America. For me, to be sitting here on the eve of the Finals, one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and I have to answer questions about racism, it just lets me know that it's still here and we should all know that."
James also characterized being Black in America as "frightening." He has been outspoken on issues of racial injustice before: he and Miami Heat teammates donned hoodies after the killing of Trayvon Martin, spoke out against former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist comments, along with publicly commenting about the police killings of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
"I look at it and it hurts and it's unfortunate and I gotta sit here and talk to my kids about what it means to grow up being an African American, a black kid in America," he added. "Always shed light on things that seem like it's at its darkest point."
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers take on Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals dream faceoff: the first time that the same pair of teams have competed for the championship three years in a row. Golden State won in 2015, and the Cavs earned redemption in 2016 after coming back from a 3-1 deficit. 2017 is the rubber match. Game 1 is on Thursday, June 1.