ESPY Awards 2016: LeBron James and Other NBA Stars Deliver Powerful Black Lives Matter Message

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NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris PaulDwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage on Wednesday at the 2016 ESPY Awards and spread the message of love and acceptance in wake of the recent shooting deaths of Dallas police officers, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

New York Knicks star Anthony began, “The four of us we cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America. The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us. The system is broken. But the problems are not new, the violence is not new and the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency for change is at an all time high.”

Wade of the Miami Heat continued, “Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop but also the retaliation has to stop. The needless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando it has to stop, enough. Enough is enough. Now as athletes it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our cow communities. The conversation cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It won’t always be convenient, it won’t. It won’t always be comfortable but it is necessary.”

Basketball superstar James asked viewers to consider a call to action. “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change… I know tonight we are honoring Muhammad Al,i the ‘G.O.A.T.’ but to do his legacy any justice let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athlete to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence. And most importantly go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them help strengthen them help change them. We all have to do better.”

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul concluded, “[My nephew] is one of the hundreds of thousands of great police officers serving this country. But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile… this is also our reality. Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommy smith. Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others… They set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to stand in their footsteps.”

CREDIT: Getty Images

The ESPYs continued their powerful political theme when Zenobia Dobson took to the mic. The award show gave the annual Arthur Ashe Award to her late son Zaevion, a 15-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee high school football player who stepped in front of three girls and protected them from gang-related gunfire in December. She was flanked by Zaevion’s two brothers, Zackelyn and Markastin.

“I’m here to fight back. We as a country need to take a stand to consider the effects of gun violence on families throughout America,” she said. “I’m here to urge all of you to join the movement tonight, to save innocent lives. We need to rewrite live to make it harder for the people to get guns.”

Launch gallery above for arrival and show pics, and for more on the 2016 ESPYs, including host John Cena’s opening monologue, winners, presenters and more, click here!