LeBron James reflects on his call to social activism 10 years after Trayvon Martin’s death

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James gave his thoughts on Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was killed ten years ago.

Martin was 17 on Feb. 26, 2012 when he was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on his way home after purchasing items at a Sanford, Florida convenience store.

As details about his death, including that Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, start to spread, many NBA players, including James, who was with the Miami Heat, began to speak out. He has continued to speak out on social justice issues.

“Until you know who you are, it’s hard to speak for other people. Or speak for anything. You got to be comfortable with yourself,” James told ESPN. “I think it’s unfortunate that we, as a society sometimes, we want certain people to talk and we want certain people to [take on issues]. Like, ‘Why aren’t you speaking for [this community]?’ I think for me, when I was younger, I wasn’t in that position to do that.”

Less than a month after Martin’s death, James and his Heat teammates gathered for a photo wearing hoodies pulled over their heads. He credits his teammates for backing him and getting involved to take that photo, which went viral.

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James says it was a moment of solidarity, and letting the world know that people are not criminals because of what they were, adding “we ain’t for that bulls—.”

LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates wore hoodies after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates wore hoodies after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.

“We had an opportunity to make a statement,” James said about the photo. “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.

“Everywhere that we went, we always traveled in our Miami Heat hoodies. Everywhere we went. That was like our uniform,” James said. “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].”

Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in a 2013 criminal trial and last week had a lawsuit against Martin’s parents tossed out of court.

“We can’t stop speaking up for things that are unjust,” James said. “We can’t stop speaking up about things that we feel are wrong — or things that are right. And calling out people that literally are simply just bad people.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LeBron James call to social activism came after Trayvon Martin’s death

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