What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Fourth officer acquitted

in the case of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore

4:33 PMLet’s ask ourselves a question: If no one in Baltimore Police Department is responsible for Freddie Gray’s death, who is? Did a man just snap his own neck in the back of a police vehicle by himself? According to the state, apparently so.

Today, a fourth officer was acquitted in the case of the man who died last year after sustaining injuries while he was detained. Lt. Brian Rice, 42, was the highest-ranking officer in the incident. It’s worth noting that he asked for a decision to be made by a Baltimore Circuit Court judge, not a jury. Once again, this is how the system works for itself. Officers Garrett Miller and Alicia White are still awaiting trial.

The judge in the Gray case said an error in judgment was not enough to convict Rice of misconduct or negligence.

Most importantly, though, is this notion of erasure through separation. There are so many layers of plausible deniability between the enforcement of law and the termination of a black life that you don’t need a master’s degree to understand why people think they don’t matter. Even when police officers kill a fellow law enforcement official, they don’t go to jail.

The officer who shot and killed undercover detective Jacai Colson in Prince George’s County, Maryland, said he didn’t know that he was not a suspect because he was not in uniform. More plainly, he assumed that because he was shooting a gun and he was black that he was a criminal. And a grand jury agreed with him. Blue Lives Matter? Apparently not, if they’re black, too. Mind you, Colson was actually protecting a police station from an ambush. Hey, at least someone named a dog after him.

https://twitter.com/TaliAuzenne/status/753975073241833472

What’s also incredibly quizzical is that the city agreed to pay $6.4 million to Gray’s family over the matter, a tad more than the $6 million that the city of Cleveland paid to the family of Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police in 2014. At the time, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “the purpose of the civil settlement is to bring an important measure of closure to the Gray family, to the community and to the city. And to avoid years and years of protracted civil litigation.”

What killed him was his blackness, it would seem.

Board on Saturday

The nation of ‘Skateistan’

is a place that might be worth your time to explore

1:15 PM“Skateboarding has taught me to believe in myself and to overcome challenges that at first seemed impossible.”

Those are the words of a kid in the latest commercial from “Skateistan,” a nonprofit organization that works with kids in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa to empower children through the world of skateboarding. Why do we highlight activism operations around here so much? Because they’re on the ground floor of a movement to globalize the sport and ultimately help people of color achieve.

What you’re going to see in this video isn’t high-flying pros deftly handling rails and ramps all over some exotic city. You’ll see young kids, including girls, thankfully, trying and achieving the most basic of tricks. As a young person, nailing one of those can be a rather inspirational building block when it comes to learning the value of perseverance. Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk lends his face to this effort, as well, in case you were wondering if it’s legit.

Overall, skating is fun. But it’s also an industry and a business that, when powers are used for good, can ultimately create a world where kids feel they accomplish more than what their typical lot in life may have initially shown them.

Daily Dose: 7/15/16

Philando Castile was laid to rest in Minnesota

2:40 PMAll right, we’ve come to the end of a relatively whirlwind week in the ESPN world, and on Thursday I sat down with Israel Gutierrez and Amin Elhassan to talk about President Barack Obama’s town hall meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C. Tune in.

France is again in peril. On the day the country celebrated Bastille Day, someone decided to turn things dark. Extremely so. A guy took a truck and plowed through people reveling on the street in Nice, creating a grisly scene in which more than 80 people ended up dead. For a nation of its size, France has ended quite a few terrorist attacks in the past few months, and the UEFA Euro Championships had its fair amount of ups and downs as well this summer. It took a shootout with police to kill this particular assailant, who was ready to do more damage, ABC News reports.

Funerals are always difficult to watch. Yet, Philando Castile demise is something that because of the incredible bravery of Diamond Reynolds, we had the brutal opportunity to watch play out live on our mobile devices if we so chose. On Thursday, he was laid to rest in St. Paul, Minnesota. I will admit, these pictures and stories of black pain become very difficult to look at after a certain amount of time, but they are necessary because it reminds us of what life is and what it isn’t. ABC News’ Emily Shapiro reports.

The 30 for 30 Doc & Darryl is borderline depressing. Not because the movie is poorly done, but because the story is so utterly regrettable that revisiting it makes you want to scream and cry at the same time. Two of the best players in Major League Baseball were once on the same team that won a World Series but were both two young to even handle it. Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry threw their careers away to carousing, and both came out on the other side to talk about it. FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine breaks down that team, analytically.

Von Miller is about to be VERY paid. The man who tore his way through offensive lines all the way to a Super Bowl title with the Denver Broncos last season and never looked back has been locked in a negotiation battle with his team over his contract. And it appears, he might actually get the better of them. I love these stories of teams where a guy “just doesn’t do that” when it comes to paying certain types of players. Turns out your boy will end up getting $70 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter and Jeff Legwold. Wow.

Free Food

Coffee Break: We talk about police brutality a lot in these parts, mainly because it’s something close to us. But how we document and process it is a personal choice for each to make. You should check out this artist who’s recreating “popular” scenes of said instances, and putting them on canvases that look like folders. Very dope.

Snack Time: If you want to see a video of George W. Bush awkwardly getting way too enthusiastic at a memorial for those no longer with us, you can click here. I have no idea what to make of this other than that it’s weird.

Dessert: I wore a suit and sneakers on television today. Happy weekend, folks.

Wendy Williams apologizes

to Roland Martin and the public for her negative comments about HBCUs and the NAACP

6:16 PMSometimes the hardest thing to do is to admit you’re wrong — especially when you’re an outspoken, nationally syndicated talk show host like Wendy Williams. But on Thursday, that’s exactly what Williams did: She admitted she was wrong about some perplexing racial remarks she made last week, for which she received quite a bit of criticism.

On Thursday morning, she invited Roland Martin, host of TV One’s daily morning show NewsOne Now, on to The Wendy Williams Show to make a public apology for the comments she made last week about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the NAACP. After Twitter went into a frenzy over what she said, Martin passionately called Williams out on his show, leading the two hosts to hash things out on hers.

“I want to apologize to everyone I might have offended regarding my remarks … I was wrong. So, Roland help everyone understand why I was so wrong,” Williams said Thursday.

Williams’ negatively received comments were made in reference to the acceptance speech actor/activist Jesse Williams gave at the 2016 BET Awards after being honored with BET’s Humanitarian Award. His speech was a call to action against racial inequality in America and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet the TV host didn’t seem to fully get the message.

“His speech was very poignant, on one hand. On the other hand, you know, I would be really offended if there was a school known as a historically white college,” Williams said. “We have historically black colleges. What if there was the National Organization for White People Only?”

Not a good look, especially when your talk show airs on BET (BLACK Entertainment Television). Also not a good look: BET covering how another TV host (Martin) called you out. Another bad look: the fact that Williams’ father and brother went to HBCUs.

 

While some might question the way in which Martin originally denounced Williams on his show, the fact of the matter is he has the platform to be just as outspoken as she can. And in the end, he got his point across — more informatively and effectively than she was able to do.

Daily Dose: 7/14/16

Tim Scott, a U.S. senator, gets picked on by police, too

1:00 PMIf you care about Western Europe, you know that today is Bastille Day. Aka, the day that people who took a semester of French in high school and studied abroad in college get drunk and say things like “Eh ben, merci!” Party on.

Do you know who Tim Scott is? Well, that’s what I’m here for. He’s from South Carolina, and he’s the lone black Republican senator, at the moment, and he has some thoughts about what’s been going on in this country recently. In a complete non-shocker, he notes that even he gets stopped by police for marginal infractions and understands the shame and problems that come with such type of enforcement. Who knew? Even if you’re an elected official from a state that notoriously celebrates its antebellum history, it can happen to you! In all seriousness, though, he spoke from the heart about it.

The names on the Republican National Convention’s speakers list are out. Included on said roster are Vince McMahon, Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich, Mike Gundy, Rasheed Wallace and Wendy Williams. Just kidding. Seriously, though, the list is out, even if only in part. This is going to be one the most hilarious conventions of all time from a pundit standpoint. Yes, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is going to be there, so steel yourself for that if you’re not used to people saying incendiary things to the tune of applause. Here’s the whole thing, as of now.

Remember when it was announced that Ghostbusters would have an all-female cast? All the weird fanboys of the original series went insane, claiming that the brand would be ruined and childhoods across the country would be forever stained with the presence of (gasp!) women. Anyways, the movie’s out, and people like it. They like it as much as they liked the old ones, which is to say, enough. Apparently though, we’re not calling it a reboot, or a remake. We’re calling it a revival. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey explains why its ratings will be flawed.

There were no sports on Wednesday night, but there were the ESPYS. I know, because I was there. And the show’s cold opening somewhat shocked the world. Seeing four NBA players talk so plainly about what’s going on between our criminal justice system as regular citizens on national television was a moment that no one will soon forget. Black suits, black backdrop, black men talking about black lives. Doesn’t get much more powerful than that these days. So, I asked people about it and they talked. And I wrote about it.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Socks are important. Like, EXTREMELY important. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t think about that every day with some degree of sincerity, I don’t know what to tell you. You should spend less money on shoes and more on socks. On a related note, these socks are awesome if you like A Tribe Called Quest.

Snack Time: Every three weeks, I pay a guy I’ve known since I was 15 years old $30 to cut my hair. His name is Ralph. He likes the Dallas Cowboys. He’s smart and funny. I like him. But in France, they do things a little differently. WAY differently.

Dessert: I watched this show on television on Wednesday. It was so hilariously awful that I couldn’t turn it off.

ESPYS

ESPYS opening number makes major statement

A more serious tone comes over the awards show in 2016

9:36 PMOn Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the 24th annual ESPYS opened with a powerful statement from four of the best players in the NBA.

Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James stood in black tuxedos, shoulder to shoulder on stage, arms clasped in front of them. The crew once known for riding a banana boat on vacation instead took a leadership role in letting the country know that Black Lives Matter. Their faces were sober, their words were eloquent, their clothes were exquisite, their emotion was real.

Earlier in the night, various characters from around the world of sports and entertainment spoke on the topic. Amid the flurry of camera lights and adoring fans, it was impossible to overlook the pall on America.

“It’s been an unprecedented time, because of the exposure that it gets. I remember the era of civil unrest in the ’60s, it was all of this and some. So, it’s almost like reliving it,” Basketball Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving, 66, said Wednesday. “You know, Watts, [California], Newark, [New Jersey], and various places and cities that got burned down. I mean, these are the type of situations that ignite riots and they also bring about change. So, I think that’s the big thing about what’s happening now. … I think there’ll be dramatic change, with us taking a look at how police handle their business. And we’ll all be better because of that.”

Hannibal Buress, the Chicago-raised comedian whose work drastically changed the way we feel about Bill Cosby, joked that personally he still isn’t sure what to do when he’s recognized by police. As a guy who went from a relative unknown to rather famous from his work on television, he said that once in a blue moon it helps him, but not really.

“Occasionally, a cop will recognize me or something. ‘Hey, big fan!’ and I always feel weird,” Buress, 33, said. “It’s just always feels weird when a cop takes a picture. I really want to say no, but I can’t say no. I do get weirded out when cops recognize me. I’m like, ‘Cops watch stand up comedy, too?’ ”

As for the rest of the country, Buress thinks that police departments policing themselves would go a long way. “I think it really starts within the police forces where they’re willing to say, ‘Hey man, that’s messed up.’ Instead of having their code of silence and knowing that something is wrong and letting it pass. And once you have police officers saying, ‘Hey this is messed up, we don’t stand for this,’ that’ll be a huge step for that situation.”

But as we saw to open the show Wednesday night, it’s not a topic that athletes want to or choose to ignore. New York Giants rookie cornerback Eli Apple is a 20-year-old who’s yet to play a down in the NFL. But he knows that what he’s seen recently is just plain not okay.

“It’s been definitely tragic for sure. It’s sad to see America be like this, just going through all this controversy and brutality. The only thing you can do is just control and have faith. That’s about it,” Apple said. “It’s talked about all the time [in the locker room]. They’re a lot of debates going on, but there’s nothing we can really do, we’ve just got to make sure what we can to make America better.”

Stephen Curry’s basketball camps

Is he really deciding how much each camper pays?

3:33 PMIn 2013, before he was an All-Star, NBA champion and league MVP, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry hosted a four-day camp in Pebble Beach, California. The overnight camp received praise for its quality and affordability, notably from ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.

Three years, three All-Star appearances, an NBA championship and two league MVP trophies later, Curry is now receiving criticism for the cost of his annual summer camp. Last week, Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett criticized Curry for hosting a camp in Hawaii, where Bennett lives in the offseason, and charging $2,250 per camper, airfare not included.

“I see a lot of different athletes come through Hawaii whether it’s Steph Curry or whoever it is,” Bennett, who hosts a free, day-long summer football camp annually in Hawaii, told Honolulu’s KHON-TV. “They all come here and it makes me mad, because I live in this community and I understand this community — that there’s so many kids who can’t afford to pay such a high amount of money. In my mind it’s like, how much money do you need before you start giving back for free? And I think a lot of athletes should start focusing on that.”

So how did Curry go from being hailed to an outcast in summer sports camp world? His rapid rise in fame might be to blame. The better he got, and the more games the Warriors won, the more money campers were charged to see the superstar. Chapter One of Business 101: Supply & Demand.

In 2014, the summer after Curry’s first All-Star appearance, the price was still $695 per camper. In 2015, the summer after the Warriors won the NBA title and Curry won his first league MVP, the price was $1,175 per camper. Two thousand dollars, let alone $1,175, is a lot to pay for a camp no matter whose face is attached to it. But let’s take something into account:

Each of Curry’s camps over the past three years has been branded as a “Warriors Basketball Camp,” and, in his defense, this is the first year the camp was branded as “The Overnight Camp featuring Stephen Curry,” not as the “Stephen Curry Overnight Camp,” which is what it’s been called in the past. So technically, the Warriors hosted this year’s camp, and therefore the team, not Curry, might be calling the shots when it comes to pricing. Let’s also remember that in 2014, Curry hosted a camp in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, which cost only $110-$125 per camper.

Regardless of who is making the business decisions surrounding the camp, Curry clearly felt bad about the high-priced camps. He posted a flier on Instagram for a camp hosted by his brother, Seth, who plays for the Sacramento Kings, with the caption, “Won’t cost you 2K and it will be a great time learning from a really TALENTED player.”

With the NBA salary cap set to go up next year, and Curry in position to sign a huge deal, maybe he’ll answer Bennett’s call next summer: Make his camp free.

Daily Dose: 7/13/16

Live from the ESPYS in Los Angeles … after Tuesday’s recap

11:27 AMHappy Wednesday, my people. It’s also the day of the ESPYS, which means this is basically the last post you’ll be getting from me today on anything other than that. Expect a powerful show, kiddos. The nation needs it.

Donald Trump is doing a lot. But, for what it’s worth, that’s what he always does. This time, though, he may have upset a large part of the populace by coming after The Notorious R.B.G., Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There are some things you just don’t do. During an appearance on CNN, she kept it all the way 100, saying she cannot imagine him being president — a completely fair analysis. He then popped off with a tweet about what she should be doing with her life. ABC News’ Brian McBride has the details.

If Major League Baseball were crass, the All-Star Game’s slogan would be #AllGamesMatter. Because, see, it counts for the World Series, even though it shouldn’t … nevermind. That would have been a bad idea, because well, all games DON’T matter, but the fact that I even had to explain that is half the issue. Anyway, during the Canadian national anthem before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, some dude in the quartet rendering the song held up an “All Lives Matter” sign. He also tailored the lyrics of the song to his message. Canada, we expected better. ABC News reports.

There was a time in which “working out” was an actual thing on my iCal. Now, it’s more of a concept, and I just walk and do pushups when I can. But when I did work out, it was a serious thing. And the playlist was half the fun. Because the feeling you get when you’re at that one rest between sets where you know you need to really kill it, but you want to trust the natural adrenaline flow, so you let the music go, and then say, “Banned From TV” comes on?!?! Fam, your reps will be the cleanest. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey has the ultimate workout playlist.

Isaiah Crowell put himself in a tough spot. He posted a picture of what appears to be someone trying to kill a police officer, apparently in response to the difficult situation that was last week, and everyone noticed. The Cleveland Browns running back has since apologized, but the police union there wasn’t having it. After various threats to not do their job, Crowell says he’ll now donate a game check to a Dallas police organization. There is so much that’s problematic about this that I don’t have the space to get into here, but will soon. ESPN explains how this unfolded.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Full disclosure, I frequently freak out about the concept of sponges. They are so useful, but so disgusting and when I see them in other people’s homes whom I don’t explicitly know, I get nervous. And since it’s summer, we see a lot of that. That aside, here’s a reminder on a way to clean them that actually works.

Snack Time: Retired Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant is having another baby girl, which means that we are very happy for his family. But calling a kid “Baby Mamba” is a tad odd, if you ask me.

Dessert: If you’re under 30, you’ll solve this puzzle in about 10 seconds.

Welcome to the ESPYS

Where Los Angeles stays the same, but the sports world brings its ‘A’ game

8:51 PMWhat up, gang. I’m coming to you live from Los Angeles where the ESPYS will be taking place Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, with WWE superstar John Cena as the host. We’ll be doing the whole bit tomorrow, so be sure to check this space which I’ll be updating with all sorts of things from not only the red carpet but also live from the show at the Microsoft Theater.

If I’m being honest, what I’ve been most worried about is what I’m going to wear, considering this is my first-ever time covering a red-carpet event. But I consulted senior style writer Jill Hudson, and my plan for white jeans as a primary look is a go. But then again, I won’t be the one with the camera trained on me.

As for the show itself, there are going to be some extremely tight awards to hand out. Best Male Athlete, which features Stephen Curry, Cam Newton, Bryce Harper and LeBron James feels especially strong, until you get to say, Best Upset. There, Holly Holm over Ronda Rousey and Roberta Vinci beating Serena Williams are both on the ticket.

Perhaps most anticipated will be the social coronation of Ciara and Russell Wilson since they’ve gotten married. They’ve been glowing since the ceremony and are sure to be a huge hit together. In addition, Justin Timberlake will return for the first time since he hosted in 2008, to honor Kobe Bryant, Peyton Manning and Abby Wambach with the Icon Award.

We’ll also be doing an all-ESPYS podcast on Thursday morning for you, to recap it all. Should be a hectic day, but I promise it’ll be fun.

Rich Homie Quan had one job

… and he blew it

12:28 PMCoogi (although it wasn’t “down to the socks“)? Check. Butter Timbs? Check. Lil’ Kim by his side ready to run through the 1995 Junior M.A.F.I.A. hit single, “Get Money.” Check.

Monday night’s VH1 Hip Hop Honors should have been all about celebrating the genre’s heroines such as Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliot, the aforementioned Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah and more. And, you know what? It absolutely was. But all anyone can talk about is rapper Rich Homie Quan’s gaffe that certainly has people — wait for it — feeling “some type of way.

Rich Homie Quan not only stumbled through the lyrics of The Notorious B.I.G.’s verse on “Get Money,” he straight forgot them altogether, leaving Lil’ Kim to pull double duty. I can understand dropping the ball on “Notorious Thugs,” or “Everyday Struggle” or “Who Shot Ya?” While they’re classics in their own right, those aren’t pop-culture staples the way the Junior M.A.F.I.A. banger is. But you absolutely cannot desecrate “Get Money.” Especially when they’ve got you on tape saying this before the damn show!

To be fair, I get it, people make mistakes. Performing someone else’s songs isn’t as easy as it seems. And there’s a certain level of pressure that comes with spitting a legend’s lyrics. Lupe Fiasco caught flak in 2007 for a two-bar mishap on the late Phife Dawg’s verse from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation.” But with Fiasco, it was a minor fender bender compared to the 20-car pileup that was Rich Homie Quan’s.

And, look, I like quite a bit of Rich Homie Quan’s music. That first Rich Gang tape with Young Thug was incredible. But a spade has to be called a spade — you can’t be out here having Biggie choke on his T-bone steak, cheese eggs and Welch’s grape up in heaven. Rich Homie Quan, you signed a damn contract. Know the damn lyrics!

Needless to say, his blunder wasn’t lost on social media:

Daily Dose: 7/12/16

President Obama to speak at service today for five slain Dallas police officers

11:15 AMYour All Day commander in chief, Clinton Yates, is currently en route to Los Angeles to cover the 2016 ESPYs, which airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN. So today, I’ll be taking over as curator of Daily Dose to update you with the news of the day. Let’s get it.

President Barack Obama will visit Dallas on Tuesday. When five officers were killed and seven were injured during a Black Lives Matter protest last Thursday, Obama addressed the nation not from the White House, but from Poland. The continued protests and civil unrest in the country following last week’s horrific events have since forced the president to cut his trip to Europe short. He will deliver a speech at a memorial service for the five slain officers who were killed by a sniper last Thursday. Ex-President George W. Bush, former governor of Texas, is also expected to give remarks. ABC News’ Arlette Saenz and Serena Marshall have the details on the service.

Who will be Donald Trump’s running mate? That’s the question, and the answer does not seem to coincide with conventional Republican wisdom. Trump has shied away from considering young, promising and diverse Republican politicians to be his vice president. According to The New York Times, the party’s “brightest stars” aren’t on Trump’s radar. But should we expect anything but a “my way or the highway” approach from the party’s presumptive presidential nominee? We’ll see whom he eventually chooses. For the time being, ABC News tracks the vice president sweepstakes, or Veepstakes, for Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Let’s ponder a world in which an All-Star team played together in the regular season. Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is Tuesday night. I don’t know about you, but every time I watch an all-star game, in any sport, I can’t help but dream about these superstar players competing with each other for more than one game in a year. Say this could actually happen. Would an Major League Baseball superteam actually live up to the hype? Could the team go a perfect 162-0 on the season? FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur breaks down the numbers.

Laremy Tunsil hasn’t turned his back on his alma mater. In April, draft night was awkward to say the least for Tunsil, a former University of Mississippi offensive lineman. Moments before the draft began, an old video of the Tunsil smoking marijuana was posted on his personal Twitter account. Later that night, a text message thread between Tunsil and one of his coaches at Ole Miss, in which Tunsil asked for money, was posted on Instagram. Tunsil fell in the draft and lost millions of dollars in the process. Meanwhile, Ole Miss has faced NCAA violations. Regardless of the strained relationship, Tunsil hasn’t forgotten where he came from. He recently sent a letter to his former head coach Hugh Freeze. ESPN has the story.

Free food

Coffee Break: For those who stayed up for the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, you might have seen how the game ended — with 5-foot-5 Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce attempting to run through 6-foot-6 actor Omar Benson Miller to score at home plate. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for Boyce. I’ve been playing this Vine on loop all morning.

Snack Time: Do you ever wonder what Gucci Mane has been doing since he got out of jail? Well, he hasn’t been making too many moves, since he’s still on house arrest. So the streetwear company Supreme recently paid the rapper a visit and left with this new ad. It’s glorious.

Dessert: Tim Duncan retired from the NBA on Monday. In all the tweets paying homage to the longtime San Antonio Spurs superstar, this was the best one.