Kobe Bryant was all about racial and social justice before his death on Jan. 26. And with the death of George Floyd being talked about across the country this week, a protest shirt Bryant wore in 2014 has resurfaced on social media. New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas tweeted a photo of Bryant wearing a black shirt that said "I can't breathe." At the time, Bryant was protesting the death of Eric Garner who was killed by police in New York after an officer placed his arm around his neck. Garner repeated the words "I can't breathe" before his death, which is also what Floyd said when an officer held his knee on his neck.
One day after Bryant wore the shirt, he told reporters that it was important for him to speak on issues going on in the country. Bryant stated: "I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for. It's important that we have our opinions, it's important that we stand up for what we believe in." Bryant continued and said that with Garner's death, he hopes that things change down the road.
"When you turn on the TV, when you watch the news, when you follow things on social media, you don't just see African-Americans out there protesting," Bryant stated. "That's not just something you see in the United States of America, it's become a global thing. It's become a thing where people really standing up for their rights and really questioning the justice system and questioning the process of the legal system and those who have authority and whether or not they're abusing authority and where's the threshold to use deadly force and so forth and so on." Bryant gained a lot of attention with the shirt, but the issues with racial and social justice still go on today.
There have been a number of celebrities and athletes that have spoken out about Floyd's death. LeBron James went to social media and referenced Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. In the caption on Instagram, James wrote, "Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? John Boyega of Star Wars reacted to the news of Floyd's death by writing on Twitter, "I really f—ing hate racists."