On the eve of his seventh straight NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James’ Los Angeles-area offseason home was vandalized with a racial slur, according to multiple reports.
Los Angeles Police Department detectives are investigating an alleged hate crime after someone spray-painted the N-word on the front gate of James’ house in Brentwood, Calif. TMZ Sports first reported the incident, which has since been confirmed by the LAPD through the local NBC affiliate.
Police were called to the home around 7 a.m. local time, and the racially charged graffiti was painted over within hours of its discovery, according to reports. Investigators are reportedly seeking security footage from other homes in the affluent California neighborhood in hopes of identifying a suspect.
Dozens of active and ex-NBA players, if not more, make their offseason homes around L.A. James purchased the 9,440-square-foot house in 2015 for almost $21 million, per the Los Angeles Times. He was not at the home during the incident and does not live there regularly, TMZ Sports reported.
James is scheduled to play Game 1 of his third straight NBA Finals showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. He addressed the incident with the media prior to Wednesday’s practice at Oracle Arena in Oakland — six up hours up the California coast from his home in L.A.:
James referenced the 1955 death of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was black, at the hands of two racist white men from Mississippi — an impetus for the Civil Rights Movement — before continuing:
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you,” added James, “being black in America is tough, and we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”
LeBron concluded his powerful statement by saying, “My family is safe, and that’s what’s important.”
James has been vocal in his support for racial equality during his career, most notably at the 2016 ESPY Awards, when he joined fellow NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade in calling for political action in the wake of multiple police shootings of African-American men as well as the shooting of five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas during the summer of 2016.
“We know racism is still alive,” James said in a 2014 interview with CNN, following the NBA’s ouster of former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling over racist remarks caught on tape, “and the only thing that I can do as a role model — I feel like I’m a leader in society — is just to teach my kids and teach the people who follow me what the right way is.”
Brentwood has its own complicated history with race. The L.A. neighborhood, which is more than 80 percent white and just 1.2 percent black, according to the most recent census data, was home to O.J. Simpson and the site of the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The ensuing O.J. Simpson murder trial sparked a national conversation about the racial history of Los Angeles, which was chronicled in the Academy Award-winning 2016 documentary “O.J. Made in America.”