LeBron James has never been shy about speaking up for what's right. This time, he's letting his shoes do the talking.
The basketball great wore a pair of his signature Nikes with the word "equality" emblazoned on the backs. James wore one white shoe and one black.
Photo by AP Photo/Nick Wass.
The choice was not coincidental, as James and the Cavaliers suited up to play the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena, just one mile east of the White House.
Following the game, James made a statement to the press. Without mentioning the president by name, he delivered a pointed message about the importance of coming together against an oppressive leader.
"Well, ... obviously, we all know where we are and we know who's at the helm here. Us as Americans, no matter the skin color, no matter the race, no matter who you are, I think we all have to understand that having equal rights and being able to stand for something and speak for something and keep the conversation going.
Obviously, I've been very outspoken and well-spoken about the situation that's going on at the helm here, and we're not going to let one person dictate us, us as Americans, how beautiful and how powerful we are as people. So equality is all about understanding our rights, understanding what we stand for, and how powerful we are as men, as women, black or white or Hispanic.
No matter your race, whatever the case may be, this is a beautiful country and we're never going to let one person dictate how beautiful and how powerful we are."
This is the second time James laced up his "equality" kicks for a game.
James wore the black pair of Nike Equality 15s on the opening night of NBA play in October. It's believed the gesture was in response to the controversy surrounding NFL players protesting the mistreatment of African Americans. While NBA players are barred from taking a knee during the national anthem, James' footwear served as a silent but powerful message.
His outspoken nature comes as no surprise to longtime fans, who recognize James as a longtime advocate of social justice issues.
"Because we know this is the greatest country in the world. This is the land of the free. But, we still have problems just like everybody else," James said to the press during Cavaliers Media Day in September:
"I will in my voice, I will in my passion, I will in my money, I will in my resources to my youth and my inner city and outside my inner city to let these kids know that there is hope, there is greater walks of life, and not one individual, no matter if it's the president of the United States ... can stop your dreams from becoming a reality."
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.
James puts his money where his mouth is, too.
His LeBron James Family Foundation funds educational and extracurricular activities in his hometown of Akron and around the country to encourage kids at risk of falling behind to stay academically engaged. The program is open to students from grades 3 to 12; those who stick with his "I Promise" program even have a chance to earn a four-year scholarship to the University of Akron. Next year, James will open up an "I Promise" school in Akron.
Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Sprite.
While we can't all personally afford to send hundreds of kids to college or to build our own schools, each of us can send a message loud and clear that hate, bigotry, and inequality have no home here.
Not on the court, not in our communities, and certainly not in the White House.