James, Anthony, Paul and Wade weren’t the first athletes to address the three events and demand change. The Minnesota Lynx’s captains, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen, wore T-shirts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement:
In the wake of the tragedies that have continued to plague our society, we have decided it’s important to take a stand and raise our voices. Racial profiling is a problem. Senseless violence is a problem. The divide is way too big between our communities and those who have vowed to protect and serve us. … Racism and unjust phobic fear of black males and disregard of black females is very real. … I’m scared for my brothers and sisters, my nieces and nephews, my future son or daughter. I’m scared I can’t teach them to stand up for themselves, to be young, proud, strong people.
ABC News’ T.J. Holmes reported ABC didn’t originally plan to open the ESPYs with James, Anthony, Paul and Wade on stage but did so at the players’ request.