Season Two Episode 1

Hoodies Up

On the night of the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. Five weeks later, his hometown team the Miami Heat took a photo wearing hoodies to protest his killing. Hoodies Up tracks how the photo came together, and its impact on our current era of athlete activism..

Duration: 31mins

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Transcript

JODY AVIRGAN: From ESPN Films and ESPN Audio, you’re listening to 30 for 30 podcasts, presented by the Mini Countryman.

 

Today, the story of a photograph taken in a hotel ballroom by the NBA’s Miami Heat.  It’s a photo that can be seen as the opening bracket of a new era of athlete activism.  But more than that, the behind the scenes story of how and why this photo came to exist tells us a lot about our current moment in history and what happens when celebrity, politics and sports come together in a single image.

 

And now, Hoodies Up.

 

*    *    *    *    *

 

[THE DECISION, JULY 2010:

 

JIM GRAY: Do you have any doubts about your decision?

 

LEBRON JAMES: Um no, I don’t have any doubts at all.

 

JIM GRAY: Would you like to sleep on it a little longer? Or are you ready to make this decision?

 

LEBRON JAMES:  No I’ve slept enough… or the lack of sleep.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: The decision. July 8th, 2010. LeBron James, a native of northeast ohio, announces that he is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

[THE DECISION, JULY 2010:

 

JIM GRAY: The answer to the question that everyone wants to know. LeBron, what’s your decision?

 

LEBRON JAMES:  Man, this is very tough and this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and play with the Miami Heat…

 

JIM GRAY: The Miami Heat?]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Cavs fans felt a deep betrayal.

 

[FAN #1: “Honestly, I think it was very arrogant and I think it was a slap in the face to this city who supported him and been behind him since he was in High School.”]

 

FAN #2: “I hope he never wins any championships wherever he’s at, because he’s a loser he’s not a winner.”

 

FAN #3: “If you decided that you wanted to go play in Miami, you could’ve did it in private.”]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Then, two days later, Chris Bosh announced he was headed to Miami to join LeBron and Dwyane Wade. The decision was widely seen as a clumsy announcement of a cynical choice — three stars joining up to form a super team.

 

[MIAMI HEAT WELCOME PARTY, JULY 2010:

 

LEBRON JAMES: We gone make the world know, not just league, we gone make the world know that the Heat is back.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Bomani Jones and Wesley Morris, who both write about sports and culture.

 

BOMANI JONES: We can’t forget that they were kind of the villains of the NBA at this point.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: They were the villains of the league at the time. Everybody hated them and they were dominant and they knew it and the means by which that team came together was just so loathsome and tasteless.

 

[MIAMI HEAT WELCOME PARTY, JULY 2010:

 

*CROWD NOISE*

 

HOST: We also know you three kings came down here to win championships. Not one, CHAMPIONSHIPS. LeBron tell us about that.

 

LEBRON JAMES: Not two. Not three. Not four. Not five. Not six. Not seven.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: But that first year, the heat didn’t bring home a championship.

 

[2011 NBA FINALS:

 

COMMENTATOR: Shawn Marion dribbles it out and the celebration will begin, the Dallas Mavericks are NBA Champions”

 

COMMENTATOR #2: As you can see from the Miami Heat, a stunning ending to one of the more compelling seasons in NBA history. A bitter finish…]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: After that loss in their first year, the Heat and their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh started to figure it out. By the 2012 All-Star Game, the Heat were tied for the best record in the league.

 

[2012 NBA All-Star Game:

 

COMMENTATOR: TNT’s COVERAGE OF ALL-STAR WEEKEND CONTINUES ON THIS 67º OVERCAST DAY…]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: James, Bosh and Wade were all scheduled to play in that All-Star Game.

 

[2012 NBA All-Star Game:

 

COMMENTATOR: The east all-stars include the big three of the Miami Heat and they’ve been playing at a different level.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Since the game was in Orlando, a lot of their followers had made the trip up from south Florida to watch. One of them, was a 17 year-old heat fan named Trayvon Martin. His father is Tracy Martin.

 

TRACY MARTIN: Everybody knew me as big Trey and him as little Trey. We shared something. He wasn’t a Junior but, you know, you couldn’t tell him he wasn’t a Junior.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Trayvon had recently been suspended from school. His father Tracy had sent him from Miami to Orlando to stay with Tracy’s girlfriend for a few days. Tracy thought, since the all star game was in town, it would be okay for Trayvon to go to some of the festivities.

 

TRACY MARTIN: I just, I just didn’t want him sitting at home. While he was suspended,  so for Trayvon to go and experience being around the NBA players, being around that atmosphere, being around a lot of professional people; I think I just thought that that would give him a sense of humbling himself as far as his school work and getting back, and getting back on the right page.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Trayvon and his family did what they could to see their favorite athletes in person.

 

TRACY MARTIN: They had did a few events. We went to a couple of practices, a couple of press conferences and things of that nature just for them to get a chance to see players from across the league the best players from across the league… That was some special to them.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: That Sunday night, Trayvon didn’t have tickets to the all star game itself, so he watched on TV from 22 miles away at his father’s girlfriend’s house in Sanford.

 

TRACY MARTIN:  He had been watching the pregame festivities and he decided to get him  some snacks from the store before the game actually came on.

 

[2012 NBA All-Star Game:

 

ANNOUNCER: And now the eastern conference starters… From the Miami Heat, LeBron James.]

 

TRACY MARTIN: And so Trayvon was.. He was just downstairs just preparing himself to watch the game. He ended up leaving the house going to the to the 7-Eleven never to return again.

 

[WFTV REPORTER: You can see from Sky Witness 9 HD, this was the scene at the Retreat at Twin Lakes Townhomes in Sanford Sunday night. Residents heard loud yelling and called 911 for the Sanford Police. Moments later, more 911 calls about a gunshot being fired….]

 

[WTVJ REPORTER: It was in Sanford where the 17 year old Kropf High student was killed while visiting his father and stepmother.]

 

[WFTV REPORTER: Killeen Evans’s son lives here and heard the shot.

 

Killeen: I was sitting on the couch and then, uh Boom!]

 

[WTVJ REPORTER: Neighborhood watch captain Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense after confronting the teen who was not armed.]

 

[WFTV REPORTER:  Police got here within a minute and found 17 year old Trayvon Martin shot dead. Paramedics could not bring him back.]

 

[WTVJ REPORTER: Sanford Police maintain there is not enough information to make an arrest.]

 

[WTVJ REPORTER #2: Baby-faced Trayvon Martin was carrying Skittles and Iced Tea when he was shot by George Zimmerman.]

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: In 2009, there was a young man who was killed in Chicago named Derrion Albert. He was 16 years old.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Michael Skolnik is a civil rights activist.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: Derrion had been hit over the head with a two-by-four in a schoolyard fight, or after school fight, outside the school: Fenger High School in Chicago.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Along with hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. Skolnik helped run the website Global Grind. The website covered pop culture, but also serious social issues.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: Someone had sent me a cell phone video of this young man’s death. When I saw the video and reminded me of a conversation that I had about what happens when a young black or brown kid dies in America, and what happens when a white kid dies?

 

For years we had memorialized and rightfully so so many white children who had been killed and remembered their names. JonBenét Ramsey was killed almost 20, 20 years ago and we still know her name Natalee Holloway at the time and killed over a decade ago we still knew her name. And when black kids were killed they were statistics there were numbers they were barely ever even mentioned.

 

And so when I got this video of Derrion Albert this idea hit me that we should create a series of Global Grind he has a name, ultimately became she has a name as well. We published an article in 2009 called ‘He Has a Name: Derrion Albert’ and that was it.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: It wasn’t long before Skolnik got a phone call from a woman in Queens, New York.  She told him about her 13 year old son, who’d been hit by a stray bullet, walking home from school. Her son’s name was Kevin Miller.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: And I wrote an article: ‘He Has a Name: Kevin Miller.’

 

Then Ayana Jones gets killed in Detroit… A seven year old girl sleeping in her bed with her grandmother. And we wrote an article, ‘She Has a Name: Ayana Jones.’ When a mother calls you, or father calls you crying on the phone and saying ‘I can’t even afford the funeral,’ ‘I can’t even afford a headstone for my child,’ and they’re asking you just can you please just like tell the world my child existed. My child you know lived 13 amazing years are 17 amazing years. You don’t forget it. And there were hundreds and then thousands.

 

And Trayvon was I don’t know Article 922… Article 874… Just ‘He Has a Name: Trayvon Martin,’ it was another death of another young black teenager in America that we covered.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Trayvon Martin’s death made the local news, and was then picked up by Global Grind and a few other national outlets.

 

For weeks, there was no arrest in the case.

 

Michael Skolnik’s he has a name series continued. But he couldn’t get the Trayvon Martin story out of his head.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: Somehow some way it felt different than the ones we had covered before. The ones we covered before many of them were you know, you know, violence in the community. Some of them were police violence. Some of them were sort of you know, mistaken identities.

 

[WTVJ REPORTER: Members of the African American community left outraged.]

 

[MAN: I see that white man, can I stop and detain that white man, start an argument, and shoot that white man to death?

 

WTVJ REPORTER: What do you think?

 

MAN: I’m saying no absolutely not. I would be in jail right now.]

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: We had never heard of this thing… Stand Your Ground Law out of Florida and you could actually kill someone and say I thought I was being threatened therefore I’m innocent.

 

[WOMAN (TO WTVJ REPORTER): It becomes racial, because Zimmerman thought that black males in hoodies were criminals.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: On Global Grind, Skolnik ended up writing a lot about Trayvon Martin.

 

One of those articles went viral, and he was invited to do interviews on NPR and CNN…

 

[CNN REPORTER: The editor in chief at GlobalGrind.com…

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: We now have the ability to organize ourselves. We can go to Twitter, we can go to Facebook, we can go to Youtube and we can start talking to each other and saying look: We want to talk about this issue now.]

 

[PROTESTERS: “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: The Martin family continued to advocate for an arrest — in the press, and at a growing number of protests.

 

[PROTESTERS: “Justice for Trayvon”]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: They’d seen Michael Skolnik on TV talking about Trayvon’s death.  Before long, they reached out.

 

TRACY MARTIN: Michael Skolnik is a great friend of myself and Sybrina, our family. Mike, you know, he, he talked about a lot of the things, his vision of how he wanted to just keep this keep the Trayvon movement active in social media.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Skolnik arranged for Trayvon’s parents to meet with his boss, Russell Simmons. After that meeting, Skolnik pulled Simmons aside.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: Russell you and I need to pick up the phone and call every famous person we know and tell them to use the powers that they have. Any platform, Web site, social media, Print magazine interviews wherever they’re going… Red carpets. To talk about this young man who has been killed.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Skolnik and Simmons went to work and pretty quickly they started to hear back from their celebrity contacts. One of them was the actress Gabrielle Union, at the time best know for the movies Bring It On and Bad Boys II.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: I’m Gabrielle Union.

 

The first time I heard the name Trayvon Martin was probably on Twitter and then you know living in Florida it was on the news.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: By the time Gabrielle Union and Skolnik and Russell Simmons spoke, Union had already been tweeting about the Martin story to her hundreds of thousands of followers. She was one of the first celebrities to do so. She was already all in.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: She calls and says how can I help.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: What I remember is you know Michael and Russ reaching out to me,

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: And the only thing we were looking for at the time was to tweet his name: ‘Justice for Trayvon.’

 

GABRIELLE UNION: As someone who’s raising children, as someone who is a global citizen, as someone who gives a shit… It was just it was just a no brainer.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK:  Please use your platform just to say his name just say his name.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: As they talked, Union realized that whatever her own celebrity could do to call attention to Trayvon’s story, her boyfriend’s celebrity was even more powerful.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: Being closely connected to one of the world’s biggest athletes… there could be a potential for a much bigger statement than just the girl from Bring it on.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Her boyfriend, now husband, is Dwyane Wade.

 

DWYANE WADE: MY name is Dwyane Wade. At the time of the Trayvon Martin shooting I played for the Miami Heat.

 

Me and my wife talk about, you know, everything.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: He was a young boy,

 

DWYANE WADE: So when this happened, this was no different, we set down and we talked about it…  

 

GABRIELLE UNION: I know that our boys in the same situation, it could have turned out exactly the same.

 

DWYANE WADE: She understood the platform that we had.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: I just implored my husband to, to take action and to talk to Bron, to talk to Chris Bosh.

 

DWYANE WADE: Me and LeBron was on the phone, we talked.

 

LEBRON JAMES: My name is LeBron James. Professional basketball player, father, husband, son, friend, philanthropist all that.

 

We see our kids every day. You know leave the House to go to school or leave the house to go play at a basketball game, or a soccer game, or leave the house to go to the movies… For us to be like ‘Hey son,’ you know… ‘See you later,’ and then that doesn’t happen… It would just kill us, it would kill us all us fathers and we feel like we didn’t do what we had to do. We didn’t hold on up our end of the bargain by protecting our kids. And that’s why that’s why I hit home for us.

 

And the first conversations happened with myself, DWade, Udonis Haslem.

 

UDONIS HASLEM: Udonis Haslem, the Miami Heat, power forward.

 

You know for me it really hit home. I am a Miami Kid. It could’ve been me. You know, I didn’t know him personally, but my family had some ties to his mother and father through church.

 

JODY AVIRGAN:  Wade, James and Haslem decided they would use their social media accounts to send a message to millions of people. The message would be a photograph.

 

DWYANE WADE: The thing that we felt was probably most impactful was all of us getting together as the Miami Heat team and posing with our hoods on.

 

LEBRON JAMES: We felt like it was the most powerful. We wanted to do it with the hoodies on, with our heads down, in memory of…

 

JODY AVIRGAN: They took their idea to the rest of the Heat. Joel Anthony, a Center on that team, was there for the team meeting.

 

JOEL ANTHONY: We made sure everyone was present so that you know we could we could talk about it. So those those guys could explain what was going on…

 

DWYANE WADE: We asked all of our teammates, you know, do they want to be a part of this, would they be a part of it?

 

JOEL ANTHONY: Bron, DWade, UD, those guys are some of the leaders on the court, but off of it as as well.

 

DWYANE WADE: When you a team that’s a championship caliber team, you are very close, you guys know each other kids, each other wives, significant others, so if I’m hurtin and Bron’s hurting, everyone is because they know what this means to us and what this means to our family.

 

LEBRON JAMES: They knew we was knowledgeable about the issue, they knew we wouldn’t bring nothing to the team that we didn’t feel passionate about.

 

JOEL ANTHONY: Everyone was on board 100%.

 

DWYANE WADE: Every player on the team. No one got out of it, no one said I can’t be a part of this, no matter what their background was, no matter what their race they was, everybody did it cause everybody understood how important it was.

 

UDONIS HASLEM: So we had the support of everybody but, you know, sometimes it’s not gonna be that easy. Sometimes you might not have everybody’s support. You still have to stand up and do what you think is right.

 

DWYANE WADE: We talked it over with our coaches before we did it, me and LeBron, we went in and went to our coaches and say hey this this what we gonna do. We didn’t ask. We said this is what we gonna do, we want you guys to be aware of what we’re doing, because it may be backlash.

 

DWYANE WADE: And I think they understood. I think they understood that a moment like that was bigger than basketball.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: The conversations took place throughout the third week of March, over a month since Trayvon’s death. Still no arrest had been made in the case. But the Trayvon Martin story was getting more and more national attention.

 

On March 23rd Geraldo Rivera weighed in on Fox.

 

[FOX NEWS HOST GERALDO RIVERA: I am urging the parents of Black and Latino youngsters, particularly, to not let their children go out wearing hoodies….]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: That same morning, President Obama was asked about the incident.

 

[PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think all of us need to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. You know, If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: And that night, a Friday, the Miami Heat were scheduled to  to play the Detroit Pistons.

 

LEBRON JAMES:  It was actually a game day.

 

DWYANE WADE: We was on the road, we was in a hotel

 

UDONIS HASLEM: We took it in Detroit, right before we played the Pistons.

 

LEBRON JAMES: We had shootaround at the Palace at Auburn Hills, and the we got back to the hotel and had what we call our pregame brunch back at the hotel.

 

DWYANE WADE: In like one of the ballrooms in the hotel. If you see the backdrop of it, you look at the picture you’ll see it’s in a ballroom

 

JOEL ANTHONY: We’ve taken team pictures before so, you know, we have an idea of how to line up.

 

DWYANE WADE: LeBron, he’s the coordinator, that’s what he does, he’s the quarterback. You know you’ve watched him play. So he’s directing it. We figured out hey you be here, you be here, you be here. So he definitely directed it, put everybody in their position. Obviously me and him being in you know in the front.

 

JOEL ANTHONY: We’re all together, everyone had their hoodies.

 

DWYANE WADE: And I think if I remember correctly, one of my teammates didn’t have his- didn’t come down in his hoodie and it was like we took a hoodie off one of the coaches who had it, like yo, we need a hoodie.

 

JOEL ANTHONY: Got everyone lined up. And took it. But I can’t actually… actually remember who actually took the photo.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Wade and James posted on Twitter. As they got ready for their game with the Pistons, they knew the photo would start to go viral.

 

DWYANE WADE: If I write it on my social media, if I put it on my Twitter, if I put it on my Instagram, if I say it on my snapchat… Oh, it gets across! You know people are watching it!

 

[ESPN REPORTER #1: Last month a neighborhood watch officer shot and killed 17 year-old Florida teen, Trayvon Martin.

 

ESPN REPORTER #2: Today attention to the story spread into the sports world.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: The photograph the Heat took featured 12 members of the team standing, in two rows, in front of the hotel ballroom wall.

 

[ESPN REPORTER #1: As you can see here LeBron James took to Twitter – he posted a team photo of the Miami Heat clad in hoodies.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Their hands are in their pockets, their hoods are up and their heads are down. It’s almost impossible to make out player is which.

 

[ESPN REPORTER #2: In hoodies with the hashtag: We are Trayvon Martin

 

ESPN REPORTER #1: It was accompanied by the hashtag: We are Trayvon Martin.]

 

TRACY MARTIN: The first time I seen the photo of the Miami Heat with the hoods on, I was almost in tears.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: I just remember just the immense pride that I had, not just for my husband and Bron and Chris, but that it was the whole team.

 

TRACY MARTIN: Those guys never knew my son, but they were really willing to risk their reputation by wearing the same cloth that symbolized why Trayvon got killed

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: It wasn’t just Dwyane. It wasn’t just LeBron… It was the whole team… And that shit hit home.

 

TRACY MARTIN: Having the miami heat in those hoods, it did something to me.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: Here you have the biggest star in the world the biggest star on the planet standing up for a racial justice moment.

 

BOMANI JONES: it is indicating that look this is getting to a point where even people who have something to lose feel that they have to say something about it.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: It becomes photograph that everybody has to look at, and everybody has to pay attention to — because of who it is.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: I remember like having this rush of blood to my head and finding the image itself so devastating and also just really as a photograph… Perfect.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: The week of the photograph, Wesley Morris wrote an article for the website Grantland. The title: “What We Talk About When We Talk About Hoodies.”

 

WESLEY MORRIS: There’s no statement in the photograph. The photograph is a statement undo itself. There’s no press conference to explain why or what. It isn’t them all holding a sign that says, you know, we love you Trayvon. It is just this image.

 

The hands in the pockets, to me, is the most devastating thing in the picture because there’s something about the way the heads are hung and the hands are in the pockets that just like… It just it connotes shame.

 

[ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT

 

DIANE SAWYER: Martin had gone out to buy candy wearing a hooded sweatshirt and all day long thousands and thousands of people have been posting pictures of themselves wearing hoodies.]

 

WESLEY MORRIS: I was really hung up on the hoodies. That hoodie is such a character with such a character for me in in this in this fiasco.

 

JODY AVIRGAN: Bomani Jones.

 

BOMANI JONES: The one thing I remember about the image – they all looked so decidedly, for lack of a better term — regular.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: I mean one of the glorious things about it and lots of things typically associated with black people it has been mainstreamed into meaninglessness. The hoodies shouldn’t mean anything because we all wear them.

 

BOMANI JONES: That is, quietly, one of the few items of clothing that everybody wears.

 

LEBRON JAMES: I don’t know anyone that doesn’t own a hoodie, and that’s just a form of attire. All of us athletes love putting on hoodies for comfort.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: In the context of this story it is it’s a target. It is a symbol of, or a signifier of of of a threat if your hood is down and you put it up you have weaponized your garment at least according to certain spectators like the George Zimmerman’s of the world. And Trayvon of course is aware of this and the hoodie goes up as a defense. Right. Like I don’t want you to see me.

 

DWYANE WADE: You know sometimes you have hoodie on because of you know people don’t ask for privacy when you do it because it’s late. You just said you look in the way you want to look or you’re tired. You put a hood on… At some point, everyone has put a hood on.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: And yet it is still loaded garment for many other people and a lot of black people who wear it know that to be the case and if they didn’t know it in 2012, they definitely know it now.

 

[PROTESTERS: “I AM TRAYVON MARTIN!”]

 

TRACY MARTIN: I think Trayvon’s story was the story that. Woke America up not only black America, but America in general.

 

[PROTESTERS: “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”]

 

TRACY MARTIN: All the meat was in the pot. All the potatoes were in the pot. It was just really you know that pot was just waiting for someone to turn it on and it just so happened when the killer of our son went home to sleep in his bed that night that turned the pot on that ignited the fire.

 

[PROTESTERS: “Black Lives Matter!”]

 

GABRIELLE UNION: The conversation just never ends because the the murder of black people never ends. So the photo was just one rock you know in a very long pathway

 

[PROTESTERS: “We gone be alright!” ]

 

JODY AVIRGAN:  The photo helped push the Martin story – and the deaths of young black men – to a new level of cultural attention.

 

It also resonated deeply in the sports world — sparking a conversation about when and how athletes should address political issues. Michael Wilbon, responding to the photo on Pardon the Interruption.

 

[PARDON THE INTERRUPTION:

 

MICHAEL WILBON: for decades now we’ve gone into this place, and I’m talking about famous black people, where there was a fear, particularly athletes, a fear of offending other patrons, their owners, the league… And at one point in time guys like Russell Alcindor, Chamberlain, Jim Brown, Oscar Robertson, and Muhammad Ali… They led the discussion of any cultural discussion whether it was political or not and then there was a fear of it. I’m glad the players weren’t afraid.

 

TONY KORNHEISER: I want to focus a little bit on LeBron who’s obviously one of the organizers. His reputation throughout the country is as a very selfish person. This is not a selfish act. And I wonder if LeBron will be applauded for this.]

 

JODY AVIRGAN: For Bomani Jones, the act of taking the photo was not necessarily a shift for LeBron James. In a way, it connected back to a moment two years earlier… The decision to leave cleveland and go to Miami in the first place.

 

BOMANI JONES: And I wonder I mean I very often wonder if that had not gone over the way it did, how does it go? The Trayvon Martin situation? Because I think LeBron had developed an awareness by the time 2012 came around that all the affection he had gotten from people prior to that was pretty conditional.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: And with that team in particular, from 2010 with Bron’s decision and the amount of scorn the man got for taking agency over his life, you realize people are going to talk but fuck them.

 

LEBRON JAMES: You know for me I think you know I was just a sign of growth. And I don’t know if this if this was the moment that sparked some for me to speak upon social issues. This was one of the beginning of it, this was one of the things that sparked it. I know you know what I like to talk about. I have to be educated about issues. but I think it all starts from an individual being comfortable in their own skin and know who they are.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: As Harry Belafonte said when the movement is strong the music is strong.

 

When the movement is strong. The music is strong.

 

GABRIELLE UNION: When the fans start having conversations on social media or, you know, at the sports bar or in their own homes those are the conversations that we need to move the needle forward.

 

MICHAEL SKOLNIK: At this point in America, on March 26, 2012, the movement was strong and the music had to respond to the movement and the music was that Miami Heat putting their hoodies up.

 

We stand in solidarity with this young man and this family and that’s because the movement was strong and we hadn’t seen a movement this strong in 30 plus years.

 

WESLEY MORRIS: I do think this I do think this photograph sits at the same table as the photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 68 Olympics where they’re on the podium raising their fists… It is a protest photo. It is a photo that at the same time. It is a photo that simultaneously embraces being American while criticizing a certain aspect of living in this country.

 

LEBRON JAMES: I know Muhammad Ali and you know and Jackie Robinson and Oscar Robertson and you know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Jim Brown… I know those guys spoke about a lot of stuff going on in their days and then I know after their reign, the conversation kind of stopped you know certain athletes didn’t speak upon things and that’s ok. I mean it’s is to each his own.

 

If this his photo, and if this moment was the rekindle of the fire for athletes to speak upon things then I guess we did our job.

 

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