Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said black people don't believe their votes count and that he's seen black votes invalidated by "recounts," according to USA Today.
James, who has been vocal on social justice issues and helped start an organization to combat voter suppression, made the comments during the NBA playoffs in Orlando, Florida. He said he didn't consider voting to be important when he became eligible at age 18 — not just because he was distracted with basketball, but because he didn't think his vote mattered.
"Black people in the community don't believe that their vote matters," James said. "We grow up and don't think that our vote actually matters. It doesn't. We've seen recounts before. We've seen our voices be muted our whole lives."
James did not provide detailed evidence for his assertion.
As a politically active star athlete, James has used his influence and resources to push several voting initiatives leading up to the 2020 election. His organization, More Than a Vote, has raised money to pay off court fees for convicted felons so they can regain the right to vote and has helped push an effort to make NBA arenas into voting sites.
"A lot of people, including when you get to the NBA, still have those same things that haunted you when you were younger," James said of NBA players' perceptions of voting and political activism, according to USA Today. "My goal is to change that and to educate not only my peers, but their communities as well to let them know that our voice is being heard. Our vote is being counted."
James has been particularly active on social justice matters in the wake of killings of black Americans in recent months, having made a some of strident statements about racism in America.
After Ahmaud Arbery was killed by citizens in Georgia after being suspected of burglary, James stated that black people are "literally hunted every day."
"We're literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can't even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!?" James wrote on Twitter.
We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn j… https://t.co/r2yPGUnb8c
— LeBron James (@LeBron James)1588802793.0
After Jacob Blake was shot by Kenosha police in Wisconsin last month, James said guns in America are an issue because they cause black people to feel hunted.
"I think firearms are a huge issue in America," James said. "They're not just used for hunting. For Black people right now, we think you're hunting us."