LeBron James says racial divisions are not new in the U.S., but he believes racists have become more emboldened with President Trump in the White House.
“No matter how big you can become, no matter how successful you are, no matter what you do in the community,” James said, “being an African American in America is always tough, and they’re always going to let you know that you are the N-word, no matter who you are.”
The three-time NBA champion shared his thoughts on race, politics and sports Monday with CNN’s Don Lemon.
During the interview, James accused President Trump of using sports to divide the nation.
“What I’ve noticed over the past few months [is] he’s kinda used sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to,” James said. “And that’s something that I can’t relate to because I know that sport was the first time I was around someone white.”
The NBA legend credited sports with giving him an opportunity to meet people from different races when he was a child.
“Sports has never been something that divides people,” James said. “It’s always been something that brings someone together.”
Trump has criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, and blasted professional athletes for refusing to visit the White House after winning championships.
In response, James took to Twitter in Sept. 2017, and called Trump a “bum” after the president rescinded a White House invitation to the NBA championship-winning Golden State Warriors.
James spoke with Lemon at the opening of the public I Promise school for at-risk elementary students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The LeBron James Family Foundation helped build the academy, and worked with the local public school system to make sure I Promise meets state and federal regulations.