Samaria Rice, whose 12-year-old son Tamir was killed by a Cleveland police officer, has criticized Cavaliers forward LeBron James for not making a public statement about her son’s death.
“I think it’s quite sad that LeBron hasn’t spoken out about my son,” Rice said in an interview on NewsOne. “I’m not asking him to sit out a game. I know his kids got to eat too, but you can at least put on a shirt or something. Some of the other athletes, some of them have said something, some of them haven’t. I think they should just make a statement. I'm not asking nobody to quit their job or anything, but make a statement for us black people out here.”
A grand jury declined last week to bring charges against the officers involved in the shooting. Rice was holding a pellet gun when he was shot by police in November 2014. The shooting was captured on video, which shows officer Timothy Loehmann firing the fatal shots less than two seconds after arriving on the scene.
A social media campaign was launched last week after the grand jury decision calling for James to comment on Rice’s death. James declined to speak specifically about the case.
“For me, I’ve always been a guy who’s took pride in knowledge of every situation that I've ever spoke on. And to be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue. So it’s hard for me to comment,” James said, according to ESPN. “I understand that any lives that [are] lost, what we want more than anything is prayer and the best for the family, for anyone. But for me to comment on the situation, I don’t have enough knowledge about it.”
James, teammate Kyrie Irving and several other NBA players wore shirts bearing the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” in December 2014 as a tribute to Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after being put in a chokehold by a police officer. Garner was heard on video saying “I can’t breathe” as he was choked by the officer, who was not indicted.
In October, after a Cleveland infant was killed by gunfire, James called for greater regulation of firearms.
In December 2014, Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a T-shirt with the phrase “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III.” Crawford was an Ohio man killed by police while holding an air rifle in a Wal-Mart.
- Dan Gartland