The sports world honored Georgia Rep. John Lewis overnight Friday after the civil rights icon died at the age of 80. Lewis announced in late December he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
His death comes during a national reckoning with racial inequality that has seen athletes, such as Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, at its forefront. They paid tribute to the leader on Twitter.
Rep. Lewis fought for voting rights, equality
Lewis, who became a stanchion of moral authority in Congress, was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He was a protege of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and images of him being physically beaten in Selma, Alabama, helped push the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress.
The Democrat was elected to represent Atlanta in Congress in 1986, becoming the second Black representative from Georgia since Reconstruction. He became the “conscience of Congress” and was both revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle as he fought to “bringing freedom and justice to all,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement.
Lewis viewed the protests after George Floyd’s death as a continuation of his work against systemic racism. Athletes are bringing the racial justice causes to their respective leagues as games begin again next week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was very moving, very moving to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over America and around the world take to the streets — to speak up, to speak out, to get into what I call ‘good trouble,’” Mr. Lewis told “CBS This Morning” in June.
Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. #goodtrouble
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 27, 2018
Athletes react to Lewis’ death
Many athletes used the hashtag #goodtrouble in honoring Lewis.
Rest. In. Paradise John Lewis. #CivilRightsICON✊🏾 THANK YOU!! 🙏🏾
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 18, 2020
.@repjohnlewis was the youngest speaker @ the March on Washington & continued to fight for justice throughout his eighty years. The world has lost a great man, but the fight goes on. Honor him by restoring the #VotingRightsAct & getting in good trouble. Rest in power, my friend.
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) July 18, 2020
One of the greatest leaders out community has had!! We appreciate everything you’ve fought for and we will continue that fight!! Rest in Power Mr. Lewis!!! ✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/PHfHuiWzp6
— Garrett Temple (@GTemp17) July 18, 2020
— Chris Paul (@CP3) July 18, 2020
— Harrison Barnes (@hbarnes) July 18, 2020
One of the highlights of my career. Thank you for showing the world how to raise “good trouble” and fight for civil rights. Rest in power John Lewis. pic.twitter.com/cjZ5QRBgpS
— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) July 18, 2020
Thank you John Lewis. You leave us all a life of legacy. We honor you in life and in death. May your soul rest in perfect peace...God you got a great one!
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) July 18, 2020
Rest easy John Lewis. Your legacy lives on as we continue to fight the good fight.
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) July 18, 2020
My heart is just so heavy but we must continue to stand and endure! 2020 emotionally has been more than ones heart and mind can accept at times. But when I think about what so many before us endured, I know we’ll continue forward ✊🏾 #goodtrouble #BeTheChange 🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Swin Cash (@SwinCash) July 18, 2020
RIP! 🙏🏽 Thank you for everything Mr.Lewis https://t.co/CqC9DYB7Ew
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) July 18, 2020
The NBA Family mourns the passing of Rep. John Lewis, a great American hero and icon of the civil rights movement and the fight for equality who helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation and social injustice. #RIPJohnLewis pic.twitter.com/f84qtEZxBq
— NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2020
Teams in Atlanta also paid tribute to both Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights icon and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee who marched on the front lines of the 1960s movement. The field general for Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, Vivian died Friday at the age of 95 in his home in Atlanta.
RIP Rep. Lewis. Thank you 🙏 You made our city and country better for everyone. https://t.co/S7LwPzqRBf
— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) July 18, 2020
The Atlanta Hawks organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Civil Rights Movement leader, minister, and author, Dr. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian.. The entire Hawks organization extends its most sincere condolences to the grieving family.
Statement: https://t.co/QohTgDgTUd pic.twitter.com/A9DR9EEhtq
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 17, 2020
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