James has been one of the many NBA players to get involved in the current fight for racial justice, which kicked off with players kneeling for the pregame performances of the national anthem when the league resumed play in Orlando, Florida, at the end of July. He’s also been vocal about the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake.
For his part, Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem in 2016 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, and in his letter he told James that he appreciated his recent actions involving social justice. The Los Angeles Lakers star then shared the letter to his Instagram Stories on Friday, Aug. 28.
“Four years ago on August 14, 2016, I began protesting against systemic racism and social injustice,” Kaepernick wrote to James. “Truth is what I sought. Solidarity is what you showed me. Love is what moves us forward. Thank you for staying true.”
James responded by writing, “Standing/Kneeling right next to you brother! Appreciate you.”
The NBA star shared Kaepernick’s letter two days after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their playoff game against the Orlando Magic over Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times in the back by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, Aug. 23. Blake was unarmed when he was shot.
Other NBA teams then decided to boycott their playoff game after the Bucks, and games on Wednesday and Thursday of last week were eventually postponed.
During a players meeting, James and Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard reportedly wanted to cancel the remainder of the playoffs over Blake. The New York Times reported that it was after James and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul spoke with former President Barack Obama that they were encouraged to keep playing and games resumed on Saturday.
Part of the decision to return also had to do with NBA team owners agreeing to do more to support players’ social justice fight.
Besides calling attention to Floyd, Taylor, and Blake, James has also helped to launch More Than A Vote, an organization that he created with other athletes and entertainers to combat voter suppression.
More Than A Vote has already partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers to turn Dodger Stadium into a voting location for November’s general election, and now other NBA arenas will also be turned into voting sites.
As for Kaepernick, he hasn’t played for an NFL team since the end of the 2016 season, an apparent consequence of his kneeling protests that his detractors called unpatriotic.
Last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he wished he would have listened to Kaepernick earlier about the reasons behind his kneeling.