LeBron speaks out, calls Trump 'so-called president'
(TSX / STATS) -- Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James referred to President Donald Trump as the "so-called president of the United States" while calling for unity in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy over the weekend.
During his annual family reunion charitable event Tuesday night in Sandusky, Ohio, James gave an emotional speech as he held his daughter, Zhuri, in his arms and was flanked by his two sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce Maximus, while standing on stage before students, parents, Cavs teammate JR Smith and pop musician Jordin Sparks.
James took advantage of his first public appearance since the NBA Finals to call out Trump's actions.
"I know there's a lot of tragic things happening in Charlottesville," James said, via ESPN.com, before leaving the stage at Cedar Point amusement park. "I just want to speak on it right now. I have this platform and I'm somebody that has a voice of command, and the only way for us to be able to get better as a society and us to get better as people is love.
"And that's the only way we're going to be able to conquer something at the end of the day. It's not about the guy that's the so-called president of the United States, or whatever the case. It's not about a teacher that you don't feel like cares about what's going on with you every day. It's not about people that you just don't feel like want to give the best energy and effort to you. It's about us. It's about us looking in the mirror. Kids all the way up to the adults. It's about all of us looking in the mirror and saying, 'What can we do better to help change?' And if we can all do that and give 110 percent ... then that's all you can ask for.
"So, shoutout to the innocent people in Charlottesville and shoutout to everybody across the world that just want to be great and just want to love. Thank you, and I love you all."
A "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville led by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counter-protesters in the streets and a car plowed into the crowd on Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others.
Trump initially said on Saturday that "many sides" were to blame for the violent scene, then on Monday condemned neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKK members involved as "repugnant" before stating at a press conference Tuesday "there is blame on both sides" for what happened.
James has been outspoken on his political beliefs in the past, endorsing Hillary Clinton in the November election and introducing her at a rally in Cleveland two days before she lost to Trump.
James also referenced Trump on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, hours before his foundation's event:
"Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!"
Updated August 16, 2017