LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — LeBron James said he had “zero comment” on the Los Angeles County sheriff’s public urging of the Los Angeles Lakers star to donate more than six figures to double the reward for information connected to the recent shooting of two officers in Compton, California.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva called out James by name in a radio interview last week, placing an expectation on the veteran basketball player to match the reward fund, which totaled $175,000 at the time, to facilitate the search for a suspect.
“I want to make a challenge. This challenge is to LeBron James,” Villanueva told 790 KABC in Los Angeles. “I want you to match that and double that reward because I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very interesting statement on race relations and officer-involved shootings and the impact it has on the African American community. And I appreciate that.
“But likewise, we need to appreciate that respect for life goes across professions, races, creeds, and I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”
James initially referenced the Sept. 12 shooting — which involved an unknown person aiming a gun through the passenger-side window of a police vehicle and hitting a 31-year-old sheriff’s deputy in the jaw and arms and a 24-year-old deputy in the forehead, hand and arm — following Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
“We don’t want anyone to be injured. We don’t want anyone to be hurt,” James told Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Trudell during his postgame interview Sunday. “My condolences go out to the officers that were shot in Los Angeles. And we want justice for that, as well as we want justice for Breonna Taylor and so on and so on. We don’t want no violence. We preach for the better of love and peace. Hopefully we can get that at some point in our communities — but [to achieve it as] us as a nation because that’s what’s going to make us the greatest nation again. All peace and all love.”
Both deputies have been released from the hospital and are resting, according to a tweet from the sheriff’s department.
“I’ve never in my 35 years ever condoned violence. Never have. But I also know what’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong,” James said. “I grew up in the inner city in a Black community in what we call the hood or the ghetto. … I’ve seen a lot of counts firsthand of a lot of Black people being racially profiled because of our color. And I’ve seen it throughout my whole life.
“And I’m not saying that all cops are bad because, I actually — throughout high school and things of that nature, and I’m around them all the time, and they’re not all bad. But when you see the videos that’s going on and you can see all over the — not only my hometown but all over America — you continue to see the acts of violence toward my kind, I can’t do nothing but to speak about it and see the common denominator.
“But not one time have I ever said, ‘Let’s act violent toward cops.’ I just said that what’s going on in our community is not OK, and we fear for that, and we fear for our lives. It’s something that we go on every single day as a Black man and a Black woman and a Black kid, a Black girl. We fear. We fear that moment when we’re pulled over.”
James cited the arrest of Keonte Furdge — a 23-year-old Black man who was handcuffed and detained at gunpoint at his residence in June in Wisconsin after a neighbor didn’t recognize him and called the police — as another example of racial inequity at the hand of the law.
“The police came in the house without a warrant, without anything and arrested the guy, a Black man, because he was sitting out on the porch. And if you can’t tell me that’s not racial profiling, then I don’t know what the hell we’re looking at,” James said. “But I do not condone violence toward anyone — police, Black people, white people, anyone of color, anyone not of color — because that’s not going to ever make this world or America what we want it to be.”