Earlier this month, Dwight Howard made the decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers in Orlando, where he’ll have the opportunity to compete for his first-ever NBA championship and use his platform to speak out against social injustice and police brutality, the latter of which is of utmost importance to him — so much so that he almost didn’t rejoin his team due to concerns that basketball would distract from the ongoing civil rights movement.
While that could still be true, Howard is doing his part to make sure it won’t be. During Howard’s media availability on Saturday, he took a page out of Jerami Grant’s book and shifted the focus from himself to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman from Louisville who was shot and killed by police in her home in March.
“The people who did the heinous incident against her are still free,” Howard said. “They’re out there living their best life, and I think, instead of worrying about if I have my mask on or not, I think that’s something that we should be discussing. Why haven’t these people been brought in? Why haven’t they’ve been charged with anything, or even arrested for what they’ve done? So, instead of the topics being about, you know, who’s not wearing the mask in the bubble, who was at the DJ party, who wasn’t — all these things seem entertaining, but we’re not going to forget about what’s going on around our world.”
Howard is also donating the money he’ll make in Orlando to Breathe Again, an initiative aimed to improve race relations through financial, agricultural and legal education. Howard said the idea was inspired by the kids in his hometown of Atlanta that sell gatorade and water on the street for money.
“We want to give these guys an outlet to teach them how to save their money, so when they get older, they can have something pass on to their kid’s and their kid’s kids,” Howard said. “One of the kids that was actually out there selling water a couple weeks ago, before we got down here in the bubble, got shot by another one of the kids trying to sell water. Now, your precious life has been taken away.”
Howard said he’s just as committed as ever to helping the Lakers accomplish their shared goal of bringing a championship to Los Angeles, but when he’s not on the court, he wants to use his platform to promote social activism, fight for equality, and spread positivity.
“Let’s not forget why we’re here,” Howard said. “We’re going to use our platform to discuss the things that we want to talk about, not the entertainment of masks and who’s not wearing it. But I do appreciate people wanting to know. But that is something that is still been on my mind. Despite us being here, what’s going on in our world around us. We’re not going to allow anything to distract us from the topics that needs to be discussed.”