The NBA star has never been afraid to air his views on the larger issues beyond his sports bubble, but he has been met with resistance from others who feel that as an athlete it isn’t his place to talk about racial or social issues. James has largely ignored these detractors, however, the backlash from his April 21 tweet about Ma’Khia Bryant caused the Los Angeles Lakers forward to delete the post and issue a rare apology for his comments.
Then, on May 3, James composed a Twitter post acknowledging that his initial remarks about the case pushed public discourse about the shooting in the wrong direction.
“I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant and I owe it to her and this movement to change it,” he wrote. “Thank you @fabiolacineas for educating us about Ma’Khia and her story and why this needs to be about her.”
James linked to a Vox article in the tweet titled, “Why they’re not saying Ma’Khia Bryant’s name” which states, “the 16-year-old Black girl could never be the ‘perfect victim.’”
Ma’Khia Bryant was involved in an altercation on April 20 — the same day former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd — with other females at the Columbus, Ohio, foster home in which she lived. Officer Nicholas Reardon, responding to a 911 call about a melee and an attempted stabbing at the home, found Bryant swinging a knife at another Black female outside the home as he arrived and reacted by shouting “get down” multiple times and then firing shots at Bryant, killing her.
The following day James posted a tweet in response that displayed a photo Reardon with the caption, “You’re Next #Accountability,” along with an hourglass emoji.
Some viewed the tweet as a threat directed at the officer, and James took the post down after the ensuing backlash. Not long afterward he put up another tweet expressing regret for the remarks, clarifying that he only said what he did out of anger.
“Anger does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate – This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”