NBA superstars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul made a call to action for athletes to do more to help unite communities before the start of the ESPY awards Wednesday.
Each player individually addressed the crowd, stressing the important roles athletes have to create change in society in the wake of a series of incidents that have brought racial tensions to the forefront.
"We cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America," Anthony said. "The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us."
Paul, nephew of a police officer, focused on athletes' roles in uniting communities and discussed how stars from previous generations took a stand.
"We stand here tonight accepting our role in uniting communities to be the change we need to see," Paul said. "...Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean-King, Arthur Ashe and countless others. They set a model for what athletes should stand for."
Wade stressed that racial profiling and retaliation has to stop, alluding to shooting that occurred last week that claimed the lives of five Dallas Police Officers.
"The racial profiling has to stop," Wade said. "The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop."
James said this moment is a "call to action for all athletes" to learn more about the issues and help communities change for the better.
"We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence," James said. "But that's not acceptable. It's time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, 'What are we doing to create change?'"