LOS ANGELES – The biggest night in sports awards began with an poignant cry from Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBon James that challenged other athletes to use their status to help the nation address gun violence and the use of force by too many police officers against people of color.
The four NBA stars stood center stage dressed in all black with their hands folded at the ESPY Awards and pled with the country for some sanity in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers.
Their solemn group speech came days after Anthony used a message on his website to challenge celebrity athletes to risk their corporate endorsements to “get this thing we call JUSTICE right.”
In his speech Wednesday night, Anthony said, “The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, destruction and anger that plague so many of us. We cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America.”
“The system is broken,” Anthony added “The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”
Wade used his time on stage to challenge both police and citizens when he 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,” he said. “But also, the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.”
Watch the entire speech by Antony, Paul, Wade and James below: