As the NBA mourned the death of the civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman on Saturday morning, Rivers mirrored on Lewis’ life spent preventing for civil rights, equal justice and freedom, and the way carrying on his legacy now could be important with the upcoming election.
“Really sad day for our country,” Rivers mentioned earlier than apply Saturday. “What is amazing is when you think of right now, some of the stuff that John Lewis was fighting for, we’re still fighting for. Voter suppression right now is at an all-time high.
“It’s superb how exhausting we now have a bunch of people who find themselves attempting to get folks to not vote. Latinos, Blacks and younger persons are the targets. That’s what they’re attempting to get to not vote. It’s superb when you concentrate on how way back that was and but we’re nonetheless preventing that combat.”Rivers was one of many in the NBA community who paid tribute to Lewis, the civil rights legend who died Friday night of pancreatic cancer at 80. Lewis, who had his skull fractured by an Alabama state trooper on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during a march for voting rights to Montgomery, was the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington in 1963.
Arthur Blank, the owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, called Lewis a “expensive buddy” and “a real American icon.”
“Freedom fighter are phrases that have been rightly related to John all his life,” Blank said in his statement. “… John wore the scars of a brutal 1965 beating he obtained whereas main the history-changing ‘Bloody Sunday’ march in Selma — to these honored to know him, it was at all times a reminder that freedom is not free. John risked his life to finish legalized racial segregation and make America a greater place for us and future generations. That’s the enduring legacy of one of the vital brave folks I ever met. May he relaxation nicely and at peace after such a significant, purpose-filled life.”
The NBA, NFL and NHL additionally issued statements in remembrance of Lewis.
“The NBA Family mourns the passing of Rep. John Lewis, an awesome American hero and icon of the civil rights motion and the combat for equality who helped provoke opposition to racial segregation and social injustice,” the league said in a statement.
Said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: “[Lewis’] management and braveness helped to remodel our nation, making it extra simply. … [We celebrate] his full life, his storied journey and his unparalleled legacy.”
Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one in every of many to post on Twitter about Lewis, saying he was so emotional shaking Lewis’ hand once they met the primary time “as a result of it was such an necessary life occasion for me.”
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) July 18, 2020
Rest. In. Paradise John Lewis. #CivilRightsICON✊🏾 THANK YOU!! 🙏🏾
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 18, 2020
We mourn the lack of Congressman John Lewis. Last night time, our metropolis and nation misplaced one in every of its heroes and most necessary civil rights icons who was extremely regarded for his practically six many years of social activism and stepping into ‘good hassle’.
Statement: https://t.co/2BZ4Xvwkxi pic.twitter.com/KiksxoxWEN
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 18, 2020
“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something.”
Rest In Peace, John Lewis. Thank you for displaying us what #GoodTrouble seems like. pic.twitter.com/heZpEeLOUn
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) July 18, 2020
“Thank you for keeping the dream alive all these years and paving the way for us,” mentioned Oklahoma City Thunder level guard Chris Paul, who’s the NBPA president, on Twitter.
Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron mentioned he and Lewis “connected to the roots” and that “we have lost a giant of a man.”
— Hank Aaron (@HenryLouisAaron) July 18, 2020
Los Angeles Lakers star Dwight Howard mentioned he met Lewis a number of occasions when he was a baby via a household connection. His uncle, Paul Howard, is the Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia.
“I want to send out my condolences to his family and everyone that was affected by his loss,” Howard mentioned. “There’s a time and a place for everything. Yesterday was his time to transition. You understand how difficult that is. … I think we should celebrate his life and everything that he stood for, everything that he fought for, and how he represented us as Black people as well as he did.
“I’d prefer to ship my condolences to his household. … May his spirit relaxation in peace and his voice and all of the issues he stood for by no means be forgotten.”
Rivers recalled one moment with Lewis that will stay with the Clippers coach for the rest of his life.
While playing for the Atlanta Hawks in 1990, Rivers joined Lewis on Andrew Young’s campaign trail to Albany, Georgia. Young, the former mayor of Atlanta and ambassador to the United Nations, was running for governor of Georgia.
“Andrew Young gave a speech at an all-white church,” Rivers said. “He was unbelievable. It was a completely superb speech. The crowd was going loopy. We get on the airplane and Andrew Young says, ‘Young Doc, what did you consider the speech?’ I jokingly mentioned, ‘Well, Mr. Young, I assumed the speech was nice. But I do not assume you are getting one vote from that church.’
“Everybody started laughing. And John Lewis piped in and says, ‘Well, we are not trying to get all of them. We are just trying to get one at a time. And eventually it will be all of ’em.’ I thought that was one powerful statement.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.