LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, More Open ESPYS With Black Lives Matter Call to Action: ‘Enough Is Enough’

NBA superstars LeBron JamesDwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul took a stand together at the open of the 2016 ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 13, to make a passionate call to action.

“We asked to start the show tonight this way, the four of us talking to our fellow athletes with the country watching because we cannot ignore the current state of America,” Anthony said. “The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plagued so many of us. The system is broken.”

Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on stage at the ESPY awards Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“We stand here accepting our role in uniting communities to be the change we need to see,” Paul, who is the nephew of a police officer, noted in his portion of the speech, naming numerous black men — including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling — as well as mentioning the Dallas police officers and Orlando clubgoers whose lives have been lost.

The most recent deaths included that of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 5 after an anonymous 911 caller reported that a man was allegedly threatening people with a gun. The next day, a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, shot and killed Castile after the 32-year-old was pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

“The system is broken,” Paul added. “And the racial divide is definitely not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”

Wade picked up where the Clippers point guard left off: “The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. … Enough is enough. Now, as athletes, it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than what we already do in our own communities.”

James closed out the opening by addressing the feelings of helplessness and frustration over the violence, and urged action. “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘What are we doing to create change?’ … Let’s use this moment as a call to action for all athletes to educate ourselves. … We all have to do better.”

The emotional plea quickly started to trend on Twitter, with former President Bill Clinton tweeting that he was “inspired by the words” of the NBA stars.

Many viewers were moved by the athletes’ message:

This year’s ceremony honored the late Muhammad Ali, Zaevion Dobson and cancer survivor Craig Sager, among others.

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