An Atlanta-based AAU basketball team is making their feelings known on the death of Trayvon Martin. This week, at the adidas Super 64 tournament in Las Vegas, the team sported shirts dedicated to Martin.
All players of the Game Elite team walked onto the court and did their warm-ups wearing T-shirts that read ‘I am Trayvon.’ The teammates first showed off their shirt at Wednesday night’s tournament game. AAU program co-director Ryan Falker said that the players will wear the shirts before and after every tournament game played in Las Vegas this week.
The team followed the trial and while playing at an AAU tournament in Georgia, the players watched the George Zimmerman verdict broadcast together from their hotel room.
“It really impressed me because I didn’t realize how connected the team was to the story, the social issue, they were all informed,” Falker said. He told CBS Sports that based on the reactions when they watched the verdict as a team, he knew that the issue was something that they could take a united stand on.
Many of the players expressed that they did not feel that Trayvon Martin and his family received justice throughout the George Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder earlier this month.
“This is out of respect purely for Trayvon and his family,” teammate Antonio Lang told CBS Sports. “Justice didn’t [come] in his trial, but it’s important for us as a group to show support for his family.”
Coach Falkner said that the 16 and 17-year-old boys relate to the Trayvon Martin story because they are all the same age. The team has eleven African-Americans players and one white player on their roster.
“The biggest point we were trying to make, and the kids understand this, is that could have easily been them,” Falker said to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg. Even the Caucasian player I have on my team, he wore it proudly. It could have easily been him. It could have been any child of any ethnicity,” said Falker.
CBS reports that Game Elite made their statement as a part of the tournament that featured over 1,000 competing teams.
Alex Bearup, the squad’s only white player, expressed his excitement on Twitter Wednesday night:
— Alex Bearup (@MyNamesAB) July 24, 2013
“If they want to support it, I support the cause with them,” Bearup told Matt Norlander. “We talked in the hotel room, we were shocked and discussed how we really felt about it. It could be anyone.”