Kobe Bryant was part of a symbolic NBA protest after Eric Garner’s death more than five years ago. Vanessa Bryant pointed out that the message is as relevant as ever.
More than five years ago, Eric Garner was killed by a chokehold administered by an office of the New York Police Department. Garner’s words, “I can’t breathe”, became a rallying cry in the quest for social justice and dozens of NBA players participated in a symbolic protest, wearing black t-shirts emblazoned with those words during warm-ups.
Kobe Bryant was among the players who participated in that protest and this weekend, as protests continued to ramp up around the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, his widow, Vanessa Bryant re-shared a photo of him in that t-shirt.
Kobe Bryant participated in an Eric Garner protest that’s heartbreakingly still relevant.
Bryant’s caption read, in part, “My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again.💔#ICANTBREATHE.”
Countless other NBA players have taken part in the current protests, both digitally and in person. LeBron James also shared a photo on Instagram from five years ago, wearing the same t-shirt as Bryant. The league has also been working to support their teams and players in participating in the broader conversation and moving towards change. Adam Silver directed an internal memo to league employees:
“Together with our teams and players, we will continue our efforts to promote inclusion and bridge divides through collective action, civic engagement, candid dialogue and support for organizations working toward justice and equality. We will work hand-in-hand to create programs and build partnerships in every NBA community that address racial inequity and bring people together.”
This was from a leaked internal memo and, as of this writing, the NBA has not officially responded to Floyd’s killing or the ensuing protests (although several teams have on their own).