Over the course of his career, LeBron James has grown steadily more vocal about social issues like police brutality, racism, and politics.
In an interview with GQ’s Mark Anthony Green, James spoke at length about using his voice to address issues like racism in the U.S. and social injustice.
James told Green that after his home in Brentwood, California, was vandalized with graffiti using the “N-word,” he had to have a discussion with his three kids about being a black citizen in the U.S.
He also said he explained to his kids how to deal with police if they’re ever pulled over in the car, giving an eye-opening insight into the conversation:
“I had a conversation with my kids. I let them know this is what it is, this is how it’s going to be. When it’s time for y’all to fly, you’ll have to understand that. When y’all go out in public and y’all start driving or y’all start moving around, be respectful to cops, as much as you can. When you get pulled over, call your mom or dad, put it on speakerphone, and put your phone underneath the seat. But be respectful the whole time.”
James also said of the state of being an African-American in the US: “I have to go home and talk to my 13- and 10-year-old sons, even my 2-year-old daughter, about what it means to grow up being an African-American in America. Because no matter how great you become in life, no matter how wealthy you become, how people worship you, or what you do, if you are an African-American man or African-American woman, you will always be that.”
As he did on Cavs’ media day when he took part in a powerful discussion about US President Donald Trump, James discussed the conflicting feelings he has about being beloved in Ohio, a state that voted for Trump.
“I think, um, they can love what LeBron James does,” James said. “Do they know what LeBron James completely represents? I don’t think so. So those people may love the way I play the game of basketball.”
He added: “My state definitely voted for Donald Trump, the state that I grew up in. And I think I can sit here and say that I have a lot of fans in that state, too. It’s unfortunate.”
James, who endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, called it his “responsibility” to speak up on issues and said that it’s important for athletes to speak up if it’s authentic. James may not always be willing to discuss social matters, but if the young NBA season is any indication, he may be much more vocal this year than in years past.