Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers wants to pay tribute to Trayvon Martin by putting his name on the back of Rivers’ jersey. Rivers — who grew up in Orlando — explained the decision in a post on Instagram on Tuesday.
Rivers, 27, said it would mean a lot to the community near Orlando. Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, which is located roughly a half hour away from Orlando, where the NBA will restart its season.
Rivers’ full statement reads:
“I appreciate the NBA giving us an opportunity to change our last names on our jerseys. Small things like this can matter and go a long way. But options are really limited...!! I’m from Orlando Florida... 25 min away from where Trayvon Martin was innocently shot and murdered. Till this day that anger and pain from that senseless hate crime still resonates in our country...but especially in my home city of Orlando. Would love to honor him and his family and help keep his name alive and strong. I want Trayvon on my back as I head to go lace em up in Orlando!! Would mean a little something to all the people down there, especially his family and friends. He’s gone but never forgotten. All little things matter in this fight for BLM.”
As Rivers explained, the NBA’s options for players looking to make social justice statements on the back of their jerseys are limited. While players can put phrases like “Black Lives Matter” on their jerseys, names of individuals killed as a result of police brutality or racial injustice were not included on that list. Unless the NBA is willing to make changes, Rivers wouldn’t be allowed to have his jersey read “Trayvon.”
That’s not the case in the WNBA, where players will wear the names of victims of racial injustice and police brutality on special uniforms as part of a larger campaign to honor “forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence.”
Martin — an unarmed Black teenager — was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in 2012. Martin was 17. Zimmerman turned himself in to police and was put on trial for second-degree murder, where Zimmerman argued self defense. Zimmerman was found not guilty on all charges.
In the wake of Martin’s death, NBA players engaged in protests around the league. LeBron James and the Miami Heat posed together while wearing hoodies. The NBPA also issued a statement, calling for Zimmerman’s arrest.
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