Eight-Time State Champion Coach Sharman White Speaks Out on Social Injustice

Jason Jordan

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, Pace Academy (Atlanta) boys basketball coach Sharman White is well aware of the call for diverse voices to speak out against social injustice and police brutality.

As an eight-time state champion and a two-time gold medal winning coach with USA Basketball, White’s influence in the sports world is immeasurable, “but, more importantly, as a black man I’m always going to speak out loudly on these issues.”

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White said it’s important that white coaches, “specifically at the high school level,” use their voice in a similar way because “the kids are watching.”

North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton called out white Power 5 coaches for their silence, but White feels the silence at the grassroots level is even more telling.

“For them to be able to join forces and be able to say, ‘We stand with you,’ it means everything,” White said. “A lot of these coaches, a lot of their success has been built around having guys who look like me on their team.”

Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25 after being pinned beneath police officers, one of whom kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, as he was detained. Floyd repeatedly told the officers that he couldn’t breathe. The officer who kneeled, Derek Chauvin, was later fired, arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; the other three officers—Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao—were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

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White said his focus going forward is on the next generation.

“This is a great opportunity to help our kids so they can help their kids,” White said. “I took my kids to a protest, which was peaceful, so they could understand what this is about. It’s gonna take a while, but that’s OK as long as we can stop the systemic part of it. That’s the goal.”