Stephen A. Smith begs LeBron James to break silence on vaccine decision

The outspoken ESPN host noted that while he understands LeBron's choice, this isn't the time to be private

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This week, Stephen A. Smith made an emotional plea to LA Lakers superstar LeBron James to publicly speak out about his vaccine plans.

On Sunday, during a press conference call to promote the NBA’s All-Star Game, James reiterated his concerns about the league even having the game.

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“Obviously I love our league. I love the game of basketball at the highest level and doing what I love to do,” James said Sunday. “I just think under these circumstances with what we’re going through still with the pandemic and everything with the season, I just thought we could’ve looked at it a little bit differently. But that’s out of my hands. I can only control what I can control.”

But when the conversation turned to the athlete’s own plans for taking the vaccine, he responded, “That’s a conversation that my family and I will have. Pretty much keep that to a private thing.”

He continued, “Obviously, I saw Adam had his comments about the vaccination. But things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody. I’ll keep it that way.”

Stephan A. Smith speaks on LeBron James and COVID-19 vaccine Photo: ESPN+ screenshot

Tuesday, Smith opined that while he respects James’ decision to be cautious given “this nation’s history,” and “its unethical behavior when it came to using Black folk as guinea pigs in our lives,” ultimately he has changed his own mind about the vaccine and chosen to share that he will take the vaccine on Tuesday.

“I have come to the conclusion that that is an error in judgment on my part that needs to be corrected immediately,” Smith continued. “If you look at COVID-19, this coronavirus pandemic, it has clearly disproportionately affected the African American community.”

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He then cited an article by Dennis W. Pullin, that very thoughtfully unpacked why Black Americans are disproportionately being affected by the pandemic.

“If you look at the hospitals, and you look at people with pre-existing conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and things of that nature, clearly when you look at that you see that the African American community is disproportionately affected, and something needs to be done,” he noted.

“And when we look at the 50-plus million people who have been vaccinated, most happen to be White.”

“So we get back to LeBron James, and I say this to LeBron James, my brother, all of our brothers, who’s an incredibly, incredibly influential figure, I would say to him, he has taken positions on many, many, many things of incredible importance to our community,” Smith added.

Smith concluded with, “One could easily argue when you see the amount of deaths that have come associated with Covid-19, it’s very little that he has encountered that is more challenging or daunting than this, and if you could speak up about those things, you just might want to think about speaking up about this.”

Despite repeatedly acknowledging that he understood James’ stance, Smith ended his heartfelt plea by repeating, “Black people are dying. This is not the time to get private.”

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