We can’t forget his torment at Rikers Island
4:35 PMExactly a week from today, I will get to celebrate my 23rd birthday.
Exactly a year ago today, 22-year-old Kalief Browder committed suicide, two years after he was released from Rikers Island, where he served a three-year jail sentence for a crime he was never convicted of committing. Browder
would’ve should’ve celebrated turned 23, this year, too, his birthday 19 days before mine.
Instead, today, we must remember Browder as another young black man whose life ended too soon — another representation that the criminal justice system needs to change. But Browder’s case is a little different. He took his own life, in one sense making it out of the justice system, though his struggles with mental health proved he never made it out fully.
— #freemeekmill (@lakinimani) June 6, 2016
— bragg. (@keaux_) June 6, 2016
Browder committed suicide after he was released from jail, at his home in the Bronx. At the age of 16, he was arrested for stealing a backpack and awaited trial at Rikers Island for three years, two of which he spent in solitary confinement where he reportedly attempted to commit suicide several times. After his release in June 2013, he enrolled at Bronx Community College, back on the path he likely envisioned for himself before his wrongful imprisonment. The lasting effect of the system’s shortcomings resulted in Browder’s post-jail paranoia and delusions, and ultimately to his decision to end his life.
In a February editorial, The New York Times called for the reform of New York City’s criminal justice system, beginning with the refinement — and perhaps elimination — of Rikers Island itself.
“As for the island, it should be given back to the sea gulls, or used for affordable housing, or an extension of La Guardia Airport, or any number of other conceivable, nontoxic purposes,” the editorial reads. “And once the poison is removed, the city could rename it Browder’s Island, for young Kalief, whose suffering there has come to symbolize all that went so horribly wrong there for so many years.”
Rikers Island renamed in honored of Kalief Browder? I’m not sure we’ll ever get a chance see this happen. Just like Browder never got to see his 23rd birthday.
hopes to go out with a bang in Austin, Texas
7:00 AMThe X Games got underway Thursday from Austin, Texas and end Sunday. You can check out the TV schedule of events here. At the site, there are all sorts of installations beyond the sports, giving it a festival feel for those interested. And if you’re in Texas, make sure you get there because this is the last year the event is being held in the city that prides itself on weirdness.
Also, check out this vert ramp.
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) June 2, 2016
Anyways, there are all sorts of fun things happening around the venue, including an interview series from Skype where fans get to talk with the athletes. Check out this interview with Leticia Bufoni, a street skater from Brazil who also surfs in her spare time.
may feature skateboarding and surfing, among other new sports
7:00 AMThe International Olympic Committee announced some tremendous news Wednesday. The 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo are one step closer to featuring skateboarding, surfing, sports climbing, baseball/softball and karate. If the IOC approves the sports at a meeting in August before the start of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, we could see a far more urban look in Japan in four years.
“The change would be the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic program in modern history,” an IOC statement said. Indeed. “It is exciting that skateboarding could possibly be included in the Olympics. This is not only a great opportunity for our sport and the skaters, but also for the Games. It is now more important than ever to preserve the unique culture of skateboarding which makes our sport so appealing and relevant,” Tony Hawk said.
With everyone in the skate world so excited, people are having fun with how this could look. Check out this piece by Pigeon Boy, a Melbourne, Australia-based artist.
— Africa Skate (@africaskate) June 3, 2016
Kevin Romar plays SKATE
and then something kind of crazy happens
7:00 AMKevin Romar is a pro skater and a DJ who rides for Blind Skateboards and hails from Cypress, California. He linked up with his teammate Sewa Krotkev — who’s Dutch, sort of (he was technically born in Russia), and rides goofy, if you care about that — to play a game of SKATE, with a twist. They used mini-boards.
If you’re not familiar, SKATE is like HORSE in basketball. Match tricks until you run out of letters, etc. Tune in to see who wins. And again, stay until the end to see who wins. This surprise twist is even better than the last!
is a rock star, even in an industrial park
7:00 AMTheotis Beasley might have the best Instagram account in all of skateboarding. When he’s not on his board, he’s partying with his famous friends, doing a television interview or copping jewels. His publicist must be amazing. But, of course, when the Nike SB team leader does get out to skate, he’s tremendous.
Check out this video of him working a park table as part of a promotional shoot for the Dew Tour coming up later in July. Make sure you watch until the end, as there’s a funny twist.
— Theotis Beasley (@theotisbeasley) June 3, 2016
OffSCenter with Reese Waters
talks to The Undefeated
12:54 PMWhile I was out in Los Angeles for the premiere of Ezra Edelman’s 30 for 30 O.J.: Made in America, I got a chance to sit down and chop it up with Reese Waters. He’s a comedian who’s originally from Washington, D.C., and you’ve definitely seen on SportsCenter offering his takes on the sports world from the fan standpoint with a laugh.
The conversation went all over the map, covering everything from The Bachelorette, to black people in baseball and of course, The Undefeated. You’ll also get to find out which NFL player Reese hated the most growing up.
Jon B and Klay Thompson
are long-lost brothers. They need to meet.
all is good fam..I think its time I meet this Klay Thompson cat tho.
Twitter needs that meme
— Jon B (@OfficialJonB) May 29, 2016
When it comes to R&B bangers by white guys, there’s Jon B. and everyone else. His 1997 smash jam They Don’t Know will still get your auntie moving on the dance floor and waving her hands in the air. His run was limited but not entirely ineffective. He did appear on the 199os TV show Sister, Sister as himself once and the album Cool Relax actually went double platinum. But his Instagram is still private, in fact.
Oh, and he looks damn near exactly like the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson.
People had been noting this fact on Twitter for some time, but with the newfound spotlight of the NBA Finals, more folks are noticing, including the artist himself. He even said he wants to meet Thompson to give the world that side-by-side.
This is one of those things where the fantasy might actually be better than the reality, because of the potential for awkwardness. You know when one of your parents has a close college friend and insists that you should meet their similarly aged kids? After about the age of 10, that becomes an extremely dicey situation. It can go either horribly or awesomely, but sometimes you want to spare the embarrassment for everyone so you actually hang around your parents to avoid interaction. Let’s just imagine how this conversation would go.
Klay: Jon! What up, mane. Glad you could make it out to Oracle Arena.
Jon: Anytime. Hey, you wanna go see Popstar after the game? I hear Andy Samberg says I’m his idol. Isn’t that weird?
Klay: Uh, well. Okay.
Jon: Trust me, it’ll be fun. We can play role reversal. Do you mind if I shoot with you in warm-ups, like Drake did that one time with Kentucky?
Klay: Well, I’d have to ask coach.
Klay: Okay, maybe not.
Jon: All good. So, what’s your favorite song of mine?
Klay: I’ve never heard your music. But I did once dress as you for Halloween. People thought I was the guy from Color Me Badd.
Jon: Haha, I get that all the time. Well, good luck tonight. My favorite player on the Cavs is Kevin Love.
Klay: Me too! I appreciate the support. My mom is your biggest fan.
Is this really what we want? Yes, in fact, it is. Warriors, please make this happen.
Daily Dose: 6/3/16
It’s official: Prince died of a drug overdose
9:52 AMOn Thursday, Pardon The Interruption‘s Tony Kornheiser announced that his local radio show on ESPN 980 would be going off the air in June, and resuming in podcast form. It’s been a tremendous run for the man they call “Mr. Tony.”
The truth regarding Prince is finally revealed. He died of an opioid overdose, according to autopsy results. Specifically, it was the drug fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that was responsible. Opioid dependencies are a real issue in this country. Nearly everyone you know has a story of someone whose life has either ended or been ruined from an addiction. I had a college friend whose dad ended up going to prison after breaking into to a CVS to steal OxyContin. Anyway, ABC News’ explains exactly how this epidemic is affecting America at large.
When ride-sharing services first came out, they were a boon for people of color. Instead of having to hail a cab, the color of the money in your pocket was more important than one’s skin. With home-sharing services however, well, things get a little bit dicier. It’s amazing the lengths people will go to avoid having people of color stay in their homes. Many will literally reject money in their pockets simply based on the sound of someone’s name, which is nothing new. Nightline investigates the problem of #AirbnbWhileBlack.
We’re in full swing for wedding season. If your weekends aren’t already packed with various nuptial celebrations, then, lucky you! This might be a good time to tell you that I’ll be gone all next week for a wedding in Italy, so we won’t be seeing each other for that duration. That aside, when it comes to getting hitched, music is a critical factor. That and an open bar, but that’s another story. It fascinates me what folks consider good wedding music. Luckily, FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey has put together a list of the best songs.
Neymar is one of the most popular soccer players on earth. Justin Bieber is one of the most popular recording artists on the planet. So when they get together, what would you imagine they do? Play music or soccer? Actually, they play soccer while listening to music. Sort of. The Biebs was having a cookout and Neymar was having a beer and decided to get a little juggle session going. And to be fair, Bieber does a whole lot more than hold his own with the Barcelona striker. ESPNFC’s Chris Wright has the video.
Coffee Break: When it came to movies, as a kid, there were few I enjoyed as much as The Last Dragon. Any flick with a character named Bruce Leroy and Sho Nuff is going to be a winner. But how exactly did this movie even get made in 1985? Well, here’s an oral history about it with a funny reveal about who was supposed to play the lead.
Snack Time: Remember that old McDonald’s ad that took a serious bend into what we like to call “urban” from a marketing standpoint? Yeah, well, as it turns out, your boy Pusha T wrote that. For real, King Push is the man.
Dessert: Doris Burke is my favorite basketball analyst in the world. She should be yours, too.
Daily Dose: 6/2/16
Steroids. Pandas. NBA Finals.
12:00 PMOn Wednesday, I chopped it with SportsCenter’s Reese Waters. We talked about The Bachelorette, sports, ESPN’s 30 for 30 O.J.: Made In America, among many other things, including Gucci Mane. Have a listen, kiddos. It was a fun one.
I happened to be in Los Angeles when the UCLA shooting broke out. It was odd, because they happen so often in general, that even the kids on campus thought it was a joke. School shootings, for the record, are always terrifying. And when you’re in a town you’re not from when something like that happens, it’s a strange feeling. That said, the story itself is extremely sad. Police say it was a murder-suicide, and while it might make for the so-called least damage in terms of number of humans, it’s still very awful. ABC News’ Josh Margolin, Julie Sone and Meghan Keneally report.
Steroids are a very polarizing topic. Many believe that taking them makes you less of a human, even though they are designed to make you more of one. Interestingly parodoxical irony, but whatever, it is what it is. Personally, steroids from a morals standpoint do not bother me. Do what you gotta do to win, but understand the risk you’re putting on yourself. That said, Russia has been about this life for some time. And by that I mean, since before I was born. And what’s awkward is that they always get caught. FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden wonders if it’s fair to ban them altogether.
Have you ever seen a white BMW X6? No? I’ve got many zero in my driveway right now, so, me neither. But, from what I understand, they look like a panda. No, seriously. An artist named Desiigner made a whole song about this concept, among other things, and it completely rocks. Never mind all that, I happen to love pandas, as animals. It took me a long time to come to this opinion, as I’m from Washington, D.C., where people go completely insane about these bears. So, since it’s Thursday, here’s a picture of a panda holding her baby in her mouth.
The NBA Finals start Thursday night. It’s the beginning of a long, two-week journey in which basketball … yatta yatta whatever, Stephen Curry vs. LeBron James. Let’s be real. These two guys are currently the most important people in the basketball world and both have legacies to cement. The last time James wasn’t playing in the Finals, Curry was barely in the league. And remember what he was doing before that? Going nuts at Davidson? Well, he impressed The King there, too. Literally. Watch ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby talk about this modern day David vs. Goliath story.
Coffee Break: Dumb sports franchises do dumb things. Some let non-smart people run their operations. Others let their players do whatever they want and look the other way. But this is all human nature, as Michael Jackson would say. And some franchises, like one from my hometown of Washington, D.C., let medical records about their personnel get stolen. Yikes.
Snack Time: Soccer in this country needs a lot of work on more levels that just what the men’s national team is not doing. Read this story about how the concept of diversifying the game is an inherent problem in the U.S.
Dessert: Belgium should be ashamed of itself for rocking these kits. You can’t win the Euros looking like this.
is apparently still fooling folks with goofy masks
4:01 PMShaquille O’Neal is arguably the most popular athlete/entertainer of his generation (Dwayne Johnson is his only comparison), and occasionally he busts out something so virally funny that it’s impossible not to like. This time, he’s teamed up with the ride-share company Lyft to execute that “riding undercover” bit, that is surprisingly effective with lesser-known players.
But come on, Shaq? Nobody on EARTH is getting into a car and just acting like they don’t know that he’s the driver if they look at him. He’s an insanely large human, has an extremely unique voice and is on TV constantly. I refuse to believe that there are people in Atlanta of all places who don’t recognize him.
That aside, this video is hilarious. The costumes alone are enough to do this justice, but O’Neal ad-lib skills are tremendous. A dashiki and an Afro wig? Yes, please. The best part of it is in the very beginning though. “My favorite Laker player is Kobe,” a woman says, laughing, to an obviously unmasked Shaq. Per usual, he takes it like a champ.
The Tulsa Race Riot
Wednesday marks the 95th anniversary
11:50 AMThe Tulsa Race Riot, also more colloquially known as the Black Wall Street Massacre, came to a close on this day 95 years ago, but the damage still endures for many. In 1921, an encounter in a downtown building between two teenagers (a white girl and black boy), led to a manhunt and a standoff in the Oklahoma town. With a lynching averted by local authorities, what was merely a childish run-in quickly escalated into one of the most disgusting and violent moments in American history.
White mobs burned down schools, churches, homes and even a hospital. Of course, this was all after the town voted to segregate everything in the first place and black people, aided by the influx of soldiers coming home from World War I, had created their own economy, effectively allowing them some level of agency and even prosperity economically.
Perhaps most shamefully is the fact it was essentially struck from history books in Oklahoma. Meaning kids in school were denied the opportunity to truly understand one of the most important parts of their local legacy. Now, teachers will use it in curricula, but there are still people who are stunned such a thing ever happened. All the while, actual survivors of the horror were still trying to get reparations for the businesses and residences they lost.
So the next time you hear someone arguing about how black people need to just pull themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps, don’t forget they once did in the second-largest city in America. Everything they had was destroyed and the truth was hidden.
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is that dude, in case you didn’t know
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If someone in Major League Soccer was smart, they would sign Adebayo Akinfenwa instantly. If you don’t know who he is, I don’t blame you. For some time now, he’s been sort of a fun, underground fan favorite of people who watch way too much lower-league English soccer. He’ll turn up every once and again in an FA Cup match somewhere and people will gawk at him, but he’s been playing professionally for nearly 15 years.
It’s not quite clear what his exact body weight is, but don’t get it twisted: My man can move. And he plays striker, which makes everything more amazing. His size is both a plus and a minus from a marketing standpoint. His nickname is “The Beast,” which is a tad pedestrian but we could fix that right up, here stateside. But he’s famous enough to have parody accounts too, obviously.
He’s had interest from MLS teams before, and it’s time to make that happen. This guy is a star waiting to happen. Check out his interview after AFC Wimbledon won the League 2 playoff Monday. He’s the kind of guy that actually says “sidebar” in regular conversation, which means he’s my kind of person. And if soccer doesn’t work out, a WWE career is there for the taking.
Akinfenwa scored a late-game penalty on his way to helping Wimbledon to promotion. But he was released by the club — a fate he was aware of heading into Monday’s game.
I can’t wait to root for this Brit on American soil.
is having a big week. The Virginia legend can’t lose
Over the past couple years, Pusha T — once half of the legendary duo The Clipse — has established himself as one of the smartest men in music. While still keeping his raps primarily focused on his narcotics-selling past and his entertainment industry present with a healthy cut of political commentary, he’s stayed relevant by pushing the envelope as president of G.O.O.D. Music and creator of the Play Cloths line of streetwear.
But this week started with a bang and ended with a banger. First, a run-in with potentially the only person more important to Virginia’s hip-hop history: Allen Iverson. The recently inducted basketball Hall of Famer and Hampton native A.I. showed up with a signed jersey and Push lost his mind. For real, jumping up and down like a little kid, which is exactly what every single person in the world would do in that situation.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, he turned right around and dropped a genuinely vicious track with Jay Z of all people called Drug Dealers Anonymous. Aside from the fact that this Jay Z verse is actually good, there’s an added value in that they threw in a clip of a rant from The Blaze’s Tomi Lahren. You can check out the full thing here, if you like.
It’s been a great week for King Push, just check out the look on his face. And we’re still two days away from a potential G.O.O.D. Friday.
Daily Dose: 6/1/16
The Mediterranean refugee death toll continues to rise
9:46 AMWe’ve got a palindrome as the date today, which is always fun. I’ve been in Los Angeles in the lead-up to the premiere of the Ezra Edelman film O.J.: Made in America that will air starting June 11. Trust me, you do not want to miss this.
Every year, thousands of people cross the Mediterranean Sea. Many of them are doing it to try to save their lives. Whether they’re from East Africa or the Middle East, various refugees regularly endure horrible conditions on the water for even the slightest shot at a better circumstance, often risking everything they have to do so. This week, nearly 1,000 people have died on said mission and one photo has come to really embody that entire struggle. ABC News’ Michael Edison Hayden reports on the image that’s gone global.
Remember Michael Jace? The brother who was in The Shield on FX? A little more than two years ago, he shot and killed his wife in a domestic dispute. Tuesday, he was found guilty of second-degree murder. April Jace was a track athlete and the couple had children together. At the time, it was a chilling account of a man who shot his wife, then called police himself to report the incident, saying, “I shot my wife.” Now, court details of what actually happened revealed that Jace basically did it because she wanted to leave him. ABC’s Jovana Lara and Lesley Messer report.
Once Donald Trump clinched the GOP presidential nomination, no one was shocked. It felt like an absurd reality in a way that was tough to explain, but after watching months of the Republican Party trip and fall all over themselves while a New York real estate guy basically engineered a hostile takeover, you figured it would happen. The question came in whether they’d back him if he got that far. Well, it appears they are. His support numbers are on par with other presidential candidates from within the party voters. FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten explains and discusses Trump’s actual chances at winning.
If you think the Zika virus is just some faraway threat, think again. With the Olympics coming up in Rio de Janeiro soon, many athletes are expressing major concerns. Also, think about this way. Half the athletes there will be women of child-bearing age, the greatest risk group when it comes to the illness that can cause children to be born with encephalitis. And all those women will be going back to where they came from. It’s a scary thought if there’s an outbreak. But you know who actually DID catch it? The Tigers’ Francisco Rodriguez. ESPN’s Katie Strang tells it.
Coffee Break: There was a time in my life when mini-golf was my absolute favorite leisure activity in the world. I feel like that was probably the summer between fourth and fifth grade. Good times. Anyways, it’s nearly impossible to find a decent course these days unless you live in Myrtle Beach. What happened? We need to know for the summer.
Snack Time: If you’re wondering why disenfranchising voters because of felony convictions is a big deal, it’s not just a matter of right and wrong. If you were wondering, yes, that practice started based on racist policy, too.
Dessert: New Chance is Old Chance to commemorate Bold Chance so, yay Chance.
Daily Dose: 5/31/16
Kevin Durant: Will he stay or will he go?
9:30 AMHappy Tuesday, folks. We hope everyone’s Memorial Day went swimmingly and you enjoyed a lot of food and merriment. Including hot dogs. Which are not sandwiches, in case you weren’t entirely clear on that. Let’s get back to work.
One family had a very eventful holiday weekend. In Cincinnati, a child fell into an enclosure at the zoo, and was put face-to-face with a silverback gorilla. Officials were in a tough spot given the gorilla is an endangered species. A quick perusal of any search engine will garner you quite a few opinions on who was at fault for this incident, between the parents and the zoo. Some might even say that the ape was protecting the child. Either way, the video is extremely hard to watch. ABC News’ Michael Edison Hayden, Julia Jacobo and Emily Shapiro report.
Sexual assault is major issue. It doesn’t look a certain way or dress a certain way. All sorts of people do it, and the culture surrounding rape and how we eradicate it is ever evolving. Lesson one: Don’t do it. All other lessons are secondary. In California recently, a group of women helped stop what was thought to be a potential assault by speaking up when it appeared a man was drugging a drink. The women moved into action and the guy was caught. ABC’s Doug Lantz has the story.
If you’re reading this from your parents’ basement, good for you. I, for one, won’t judge you. I do wonder why when people live at home, it’s always assumed that a transition has been made to the very bottom floor. I’m sure there are tons of people out here working hard straight out of their old bedrooms. That aside, quite a few millenials are living with their boomer parents. Hey Mom and Dad, I’m back — thanks for ruining the economy when I was a kid! FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman explains how that’s not the only reason people are coming home in droves, again.
Now that the Oklahoma City Thunder are out of the playoffs, NBA fans can turn back to a fun focus: Kevin Durant’s future. The Washington, D.C.-area native will be a free agent this summer. He’s in an interesting spot. Having never left the Oklahoma City franchise, there is a certain nervousness that comes with branching out. Then again, with the salary cap going up, he can make a ton of money. Then, of course, there is basketball. The Thunder have built a powerhouse around KD. But they just can’t get over the hump. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon ponders what Durant will do next.
Coffee Break: Personally, I struggle mightily with getting sleep. Been that way for years. But for professional athletes, sleep, obviously, is critical. Not enough rest could lead to a bad night, or perhaps more disastrously, an injury. As it turns out, the National Hockey League legit has sleep coaches. Here are some tips from the pros.
Snack Time: We’re in a bit of a renaissance when it comes to movies and television shows made by black people, not necessarily just about black people. Check out this list of the 50 greatest films by black directors. Very fun.
Dessert: The new Alicia Keys video looks like a blast. Here’s how the choreographer pulled it off.