Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo released a statement Saturday afternoon surrounding the death of George Floyd amidst protests and riots around the country.
"The last few days have been among my most difficult as a coach. The conversations I've had with players and staff, both current and former, have been raw and emotional," Izzo said in a statement released via Twitter. "I've done a lot of listening and heard a lot of pain in their stories. It's been a struggle for me to find the right words to say. I don't have all the answers – far from it. But one thing that's certain is that I can't stay silent."
Before their season-opening home game in 2017, Izzo had his team wear warmups that read "We Talk, We Listen." The back featured a quote from former Spartan Miles Bridges: "It's Not About Me, It's About Us." It was Izzo's way of telling everyone he felt it was vital that we come together. He wanted to unify individuals and communities.
"Over the last few months, we've often heard, 'we're all in this together.' That's never been more true than it is now. If we are going to fight racism, it's a burden we all share, regardless of the color of our skin. We are facing a giant problem, and the solutions aren't easy – but that can't stop us from trying," said Izzo. "As a country, we must do better. We can't change the past, but we must start to build a better future – a future where everyone feels safe and valued."
"Speaking out is important, but the change we desire can't just come from words – it comes from action. We have to call out injustice when we see it. We need to respect and support one another. We must love our fellow human beings!"
"For a country that has many wonderful diverse cultures, we have to stand together as Americans. We must stand together for human rights and against racism," Izzo said. "As a white American basketball coach who has been trusted and accepted into African American homes across our country, the racism and injustice I've witnessed has sickened my soul. God bless George Floyd, his family, and every American who has been a victim of social injustice across our country."
Izzo's statement comes shortly after new head football coach Mel Tucker released one of his own.
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