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NBA star speaks out on shooting death of Florida teen

Published:Saturday | March 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Dwyane Wade

MIAMI (AP):

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were only a few miles away from Trayvon Martin on February 26, participating in the NBA All-Star game on the night the unarmed black teenager wearing a hooded sweatshirt was shot to death by a neighbourhood crime-watch volunteer.

They never knew the teenager, but yesterday they decided it was time to speak out.

Wade posted a photo of himself from a previous photo shoot wearing a hooded shirt, otherwise known as a hoodie, to his Twitter and Facebook pages yesterday morning.

A couple hours later, James posted another photo - this one of the Heat team, all wearing hoodies, their heads bowed, their hands stuffed into their pockets. The photo was taken at the team hotel, though it was not clear when it was snapped.

Among the hashtags James linked to the photo: "WeWantJustice." The National Basketball Players Association issued a statement saying it was saddened and horrified by the killing, and accused the police department in Sanford, Florida - where Martin was shot - of "racial bias".

"As a father, this hits home," said Wade, who has 10- and 4-year-old sons.

Martin was killed as he was returning to a gated community, carrying candy and iced tea. A neighbourhood crime-watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, said he acted in self-defence. He has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating.

Protest action

Protests have popped up nationwide in recent days, with thousands of people - many of them wearing hoodies - calling for action.

"This situation hit home for me because last Christmas, all my oldest son wanted as a gift was hoodies," Wade told The Associated Press yesterday from Auburn Hills, Michigan, where the Heat were to play the Detroit Pistons. "So when I heard about this a week ago, I thought of my sons. I'm speaking up because I feel it's necessary that we get past the stereotype of young, black men and especially with our youth."

Wade and James decided Thursday to make their reactions about the Martin situation public, and James felt the best way to do that was the team photo with everyone wearing hoodies.

"Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin for their loss and for everyone involved in this terrible tragedy," the Heat said in a statement yesterday. "We support our players and join them in hoping that their images and our logo can be part of the national dialogue and can help in our nation's healing."