LeBron James offered his first public comments Wednesday after his Los Angeles–area home was vandalized by a racial slur.
In a thoughtful, lengthy response to a reporter's question, James first said that his family was safe before reflecting on race and racism.
"Racism will always be part of the world, part of America," James said. "And hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day."
The Los Angeles Police Department said Wednesday that it was investigating a racial slur painted on the front gate of James's home. An unknown vandal scrawled the N–word onto James’ gate, according to NBC 4.
In his comments, James brought up the mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy lynched in Mississippi in 1955. He recalled Till's mother's decision to hold an open–casket funeral for her murdered son.
"The reason that she had an open casket is that she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime and being black in America," James said.
James has been increasingly willing to speak out on social and political issues, especially related to race. He famously wore an "I Can't Breathe" shirt during warmups in 2014 to protest the NYPD killing Eric Garner, and he gave a joint speech about violence and racism with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony at the 2016 ESPYS.
"No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough," James said Wednesday. "And we've got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America."
James is set to play in his seventh consecutive NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday.