For the past few weeks, the country has had to endure two separate high-profile court cases which involved race and shootings. First, Kyle Rittenhouse stood trial for shooting and killing two men and injuring another during the unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
While in Georgia, three men accused of shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery faced a similar fate. If watching wall-to-wall coverage of both trials wasn't gut-wrenching enough, many people were closely following the story of Julius Jones.
Jones has spent over two decades in prison for a murder he maintains he did not commit. Everyone from Kim Kardashian West to Baker Mayfield have voiced their opposition to his execution which was scheduled for today. Besides the activists on the ground, few people have been as outspoken on this case as a group of NBA players.
Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and Trae Young have all used their platforms to advocate for Jones. In September, I asked Young about the case. The former Oklahoma Sooner encouraged everyone to learn more about the case "because an innocent man is behind bars and facing death." That was just one of many statements that Young made to draw attention to Jones's dire situation.
On November 1, the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Jones for the second time. Today, with hours remaining before his execution, Governor Kevin Stitt commuted Jones's sentence, who will spend life in prison.
Of course, the lion's share of the credit goes to the activists and lawyers who waged this legal battle for years. But the athletes who put their personal reputation and profits on the line deserve praise.
I've written before about Young's activism at such a young age. Lately, there has been a trend of NBA players shrinking from the spotlight of serious issues. But, that's not 'Ice Trae.' Raised in Texas, molded in Oklahoma, and now flourishing in Georgia, Young never shies away from a challenge. The Atlanta Hawks and the NBA are lucky to have a man of his character and integrity representing their organizations.