Russell Wilson, 31, is advocating for permanent change amidst the global Black Lives Matter movement, especially for step son Future, 6, daughter Sienna, 3, and his unborn baby with wife Ciara. “I look at my children and I pray for a better future,” the Seattle Seahawks star said during the 2020 ESPY Awards, which aired on Sunday, June 21. “A world where the color of their brown doesn’t stop them from their calling, from their purpose and their destiny…I pray for a world where I don’t have to fear for my children due to systemic racism from hundreds of years of oppression. The only thing that must die is racism,” he urged in his powerful speech.
During the moment — which also included words by his fellow ESPY hosts, USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe and WNBA player Sue Bird, Russell paid tribute to some of the greatest Black athletes in history. “Jackie Robinson went from playing in the Negro leagues to become the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball at a time when segregation was legal,” Russell — wearing a poignant BLM t-shirt — said. “Muhammad Ali, the GOAT, went against the establishment…Serena Williams has spent her life dominating the court, but it’s her courage to speak out against inequality and racism that has made her a voice of our generation,” Russell continued.
“‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ — those were George Floyd‘s last words. Ahmaud Arbery was just going out for a run and never came home. Breonna Taylor was at home in bed,” the Seahawks star continued went on, as their images flashed across the screen in tribute. 2020 has been a tumultuous year in the professional sports world, with every major league — including the NFL, NHL and NBA — having to halt their seasons due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Many professional athletes have since used their voices to be activists during the Black Lives Matter movement, and this years’ ESPY Awards was a reflection what is happening in our world today.
“Inspired by the extraordinary acts of heroism and humanitarian aid happening around the world, The 2020 ESPYS will shift its customary focus from outstanding athletic achievement in order to further highlight narratives of service, perseverance, and courage from within the world of sports,” a release by ESPN read ahead of the event.
The Black Lives Matter movement has become a global topic of conversation, sparking protests following the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd, who was an unarmed Black man. Many A-List athletes have been vocal about the cause, including Los Angeles Laker star LeBron James, 35. “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you??” he wrote on Instagram, captioning a side-by-side image of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, next to an image of a kneeling Colin Kaepernick, 32.