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Professional athletes brought the message of protesters in the Eric Garner case to their respective playing fields and courts over the weekend, with the NBA's biggest star vowing to follow suit.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said Sunday that he was looking for an "I Can't Breathe" shirt, and he could wear it while warming up before a game like Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose did. Rose warmed up in the shirt Saturday before Chicago played Golden State.
The slogan refers to Garner, a New York man who died July 17 after a police officer allegeldy placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.
A video recording of the arrest showed Eric Garner gasping, "I can't breathe" during the fatal encounter, and thousands have protested a grand jury decision not to indict the officer since the announcement on Wednesday.
"It was spectacular," James said of the shirt. "I loved it. I'm looking for one."
Asked if he would wear one Monday when Cleveland visited the Brooklyn Nets, James said: "It's possible."
Also Sunday, St. Louis Rams guard Davin Joseph wrote the slogan on the cleats he wore during pregame warmups before the Rams beat the Washington Redskins 24-0. Tight end Jared Cook had it written on his wrist tape. Receiver Kenny Britt had several names — including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin — written on his blue and gold cleats. The names were of black men or teens whose deaths led to protests.
Last week, Cook and Britt joined three of their teammates in making the "Hands up, don't shoot" gesture favored by protesters of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case during introductions prior to their game against the Oakland Raiders. The St. Louis Police Officers Association expressed outrage and called for the NFL to discipline the players; the league declined.
"I feel like we should support what we feel is right," said Joseph, who intended to wear the cleats during the game but had to change because of the condition of the slick turf at the Redskins' stadium. "We should always have an opinion of sticking up for people who don't have a voice."
Joseph Tweeted an image of his shoes before the game with the message: "R.I.P. Eric Garner."
Players at other NFL games expressed similar sentiments. Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush had "I Can't Breathe" written in black across his blue warmup shirt. Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi wrote the message on the back of the shirt he wore before a game in Cleveland.
"Honestly, I've always been the quiet kid. I've always been the one who's reserved, to kind of sit back and not really get into politics and things like that," said Bush, whose mother has been a police officer for about 20 years. "But I don't know why I just felt some kind of ... I guess the situation just touched me.
"It's kind of resonated with me. Not because I've been through a similar situation or because I've seen anybody go through it. I just really felt terrible about what was going on these past couple of weeks."
Lions coach Jim Caldwell supported Bush's action.
"I grew up in the '60s, where everybody was socially conscious," Caldwell said. "I believe in it. I'd be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently, because more than likely, some of those protests that Dr. (Martin Luther) King and some of the others that took a part in non-violent protests, is the reason why I'm standing here in front of you today."
Bademosi said there were players and coaches on his team who weren't even aware what "I Can't Breathe" meant. He called the Garner case "a ridiculous situation."
"It's not an us-against-them thing," Bademosi said. "It's about us standing in solidarity with those of us who know what's going on."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.