LeBron after racist vandalism: ‘being black in America is tough’

LeBron James, the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers and perhaps the NBA, became the victim of a racially charged hate crime one day prior to taking the sport’s grandest stage.

As originally reported by TMZ Wednesday morning, the front gate of James’ home in Los Angeles was spray-painted with the N-word. LAPD detectives have opened an investigation, including viewing the security-camera footage of nearby homes in hopes of identifying the violator, according to the Washington Post.

James, whose incredible playing resume includes three championships, four MVP awards and 13 All-NBA selections, delivered a poignant response at Wednesday’s Media Day leading to the NBA Finals, which will begin Thursday evening in Oakland. In it, he told Greg Logan of Newsday what many realize, racism is “alive every single day”:

“It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. Hate, in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day, even though it’s concealed most of the time.”

The future Hall-of-Famer said that among his first thoughts upon hearing the news of the vandalism, which occurred while neither he or his family was home, were of Emmit Till. Till, who was lynched at the age of 14 in 1955 Mississippi, had his body made visible by his mother, who chose an open-casket funeral for her child hoping to shed light on the reality of racism.

While the country has come a long way in reversing the racism over the past 62 years, James said he feels there is still much room for growth. And he added that he was willing to the beacon in that growth:

“If this is to shed a light, and keep the conversation going, on my behalf, then I’m OK with it.”

He added that the most important thing is the safety of his family — wife and three children.

Along with asserting that his attention will be entirely on the games once the ball is in the air, James offered a final powerful thought:

“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 — it’s tough.”