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

Muhammad Ali

set to cover the next issue of ESPN The Magazine, available June 17

3:20 PMYou’ll want to pick up one of these.

The late Muhammad Ali will cover ESPN The Magazine‘s June 27 issue, which will officially hit newsstands June 17. The cover is beautiful, featuring a black-and-white photo of the champ and one of his most famous quotes, “I shook up the world!” which he said, among many other quotable things, after knocking out Sonny Liston in 1964 at the age of 22.

There’s no official total, but Ali might have covered more magazines than any athlete in history. From Boxing Illustrated to Time, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Jet and more, the number of magazine covers Ali appeared on (many of which he did so on several different occasions) is yet another reason that he is The Greatest.

Maria Sharapova’s doping ban …

reminds us of the racial body-shaming Serena Williams has endured

4:46 PMOn Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation suspended 29-year-old Russian player Maria Sharapova from competition for two years because she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

The ban is ironic, taking into account the No. 1-ranked player Serena Williams, whom critics have body-shamed throughout her career, often because she is an African-American. Williams, 34, has never been sanctioned for using a banned substance.

For years, Williams’ muscular build has led to criticism and accusations of doping, which at times goes too far with extremely hateful labels surrounding her identity as a black woman.

On the other hand, Sharapova’s taller and slimmer frame has led to the “Is Maria Sharapova the most beautiful woman in tennis history?” topic of debate. Sharapova has never been a part of ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue, but Williams put her oft-criticized body on display when she covered the first Body Issue in 2009. Since then, the hateful comments have persisted, even leading Williams to wear long sleeves during Wimbledon in 2015.

At Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsperson of the Year” ceremony, Williams addressed the body-shaming in her acceptance speech.

“I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them — I look stronger,” she said. “I’ve had people look past me because the color of my skin. I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman. I’ve had critics say I [would] never win another Grand Slam when I was only at No. 7 — and here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles, and I’m still going.”

It is hoped that the body-shaming of Williams will be put to rest for a while.

Kanye West

Will this year’s birthday celebration top last year’s?

4:00 PMKanye West turned 39 years old Wednesday. The rapper, who gave us The Life of Pablo in February, has been relatively quiet on social media, so we don’t know how he’s celebrating.

We surely remember his 38th birthday celebration, though. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, rented out the Staples Center (reportedly dropping $110,000 on the occasion), so West and his friends could play some hoops in the home arena of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Singer Justin Bieber was there, along with NBA players Russell Westbrook, John Wall and James Harden. John Legend even kicked off the East-vs.-West-themed game by singing the national anthem.

Here’s a clip from last year’s bash. Rarely do you see West smile like this:

Like many rappers, West has immersed himself in the sports world, and has benefited from the access his fame affords him. He proposed to his wife at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, in 2013, and attended longtime Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game in April at the Staples Center.

Extravagance has been a trademark of West’s, so we expected something big for this 39th birthday. You never know, maybe he’ll celebrate at Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night. I’m sure Kardashian West could get tickets cheaper than $110,000.

Daily Dose: 6/8/16

Hillary Clinton makes history

12:00 PMAn everlasting debate — in-depth analytics aside — surrounds this question: Which team in the history sports has had the greatest dynasty? The early 1970s Howard University men’s soccer program might not be a dynasty, but it came close. Redemption Song, a Spike Lee Lil’ Joints film on the program, was released Tuesday. In addition, The Undefeated’s Justin Tinsley chronicled, in story form, the rise and fall of Howard soccer, which the NCAA stripped of a title in 1971. Definitely check out these pieces on this dynasty that never was.

Hillary Clinton became the first female presumptive presidential nominee of a major party in U.S. history, following wins in the California, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota primaries Tuesday night. Are we surprised? Not really. It seemed as if the former secretary of state and first lady was destined to represent the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election. As Clinton celebrated, her main opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, vowed he would keep fighting. Though it’s likely that Clinton will remain the nominee, can you really blame Sanders for standing tall after coming this far? ABC News reports on Clinton’s feat, including David Muir’s exclusive interview with her.

Donald Trump has been waiting, and now has his opponent. Trump has been the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee for more than a month now. With Clinton’s Democratic nod, the 2016 election (as well as the conclusion of President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House) seems to be creeping up on us. And as controversial as Trump been for some, the reality is setting in that he could be the nation’s next president. As November approaches, the question seems to be, “Will Trump screw up everything we know about elections?” which the FiveThirtyEight staff attempted to answer. The conversation is fascinating.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team made a statement with its win over Costa Rica in the Copa America Centenario on Tuesday. The United States crushed Costa Rica, 4-0, in a game that striker Clint Dempsey called a “must-win” following the 2-0 loss to Colombia last Friday. Dempsey had a goal and two assists, putting the United States in the position to advance to the knockout stage of the tournament. The victory may have provided some relief for U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has received his fair share of criticism over the years, including after the loss to Colombia. ESPN’s Doug McIntyre broke down the takeaways from the win.

If you don’t believe in the power of smartphones, you should after this. The 1-year-old daughter of a woman in Australia stopped breathing, and with the simple words, “Hey Siri, can you call the ambulance,” help was soon on the way while the mother did what she could to help her baby. Siri, the iPhone’s voice-recognition personal assistant, is certainly helpful for everyday tasks such as looking up the name of a song or checking sports scores. You’d like to think Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder, envisioned his products having extraordinary capabilities such as this. ABC News’ Lena Masri has the story on the baby, who is still alive, thanks in part to Siri.

Free food

Coffee Break: The Women’s College World Series yielded an EPIC game between Auburn and Oklahoma on Tuesday night that featured a home run-robbing catch from Auburn to extend the contest, and then an Auburn walk-off grand slam. Never have I seen a softball game like it. Here are the two amazing plays in one tweet.

Snack Time: In case you missed it, Atlanta’s ONE Musicfest will bring back one of the best hip-hop collectives, the Dungeon Family, for the first time in 10 years at the September music festival. This gives me hope for another Outkast reunion down the road at the Super Bowl LIII, also in Atlanta in 2019.

Dessert: This re-enactment of the Manny Machado-Yordano Ventura fight from Tuesday night’s Baltimore Orioles-Kansas City Royals game made me laugh.

NFL’s Twitter hacked

Laremy Tunsil probably feels for Roger Goodell

4:00 PMOn June 7, 2016, at 12:36 p.m., NFL commissioner Roger Goodell died — at least according to the NFL’s official Twitter account.

The tweet was deleted, much to the Twitter hacker’s chagrin. But that didn’t stop the hacker. How about a few more hacked tweets for good measure?

 

Don’t worry, Goodell is still alive. The tweets were deleted within minutes. The #TwitterGate crisis was averted.

Tuesday’s hack wasn’t the first the NFL has recently experienced.

Just ask Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, who was once projected to be the top pick in April’s NFL draft. Someone hacked his Twitter account 13 minutes before the draft started, and his dreams of being a top-five pick went up in smoke (Tunsil fell to Miami at the No. 13 selection). The former Ole Miss Rebel was publicly humiliated and vilified after an old video of him smoking marijuana with a gas mask was tweeted from his account and a conversation with a former college coach about the payment of bills was published on his Instagram. Tunsil lost millions as a result of these two hacks, a situation to which Goodell responded by saying, “… It’s all part of what makes the draft so exciting.”

The takeover of the NFL’s Twitter account surely added some excitement to a typical Tuesday afternoon. Only this time the league and its leader were on the receiving end of said excitement.

Daily Dose: 6/7/16

Kimbo Slice, Prince and Bobbi Kristina Brown — all gone too soon

11:00 AMToday is a reminder of just how short life can be. On Monday night, mixed martial arts fighter and internet sensation Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson died at the age of 42. And today would have been the 58th birthday of Prince, who died in April. Rest in peace, Kimbo Slice, and we wish we still had you here, Prince, on your born day.

Speaking of the harsh reality of premature death, singer Bobby Brown recently opened up for the first time about the death of his 22-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, in July 2015. For anyone who has followed the situation in the past year, you know how perplexing the details have been. Bobbi Kristina was the daughter of Brown and the late R&B singer Whitney Houston, who died in February 2012. Both Houston and, three years later her daughter, were found dead in a water-filled bathtub. Bobby Brown, the author of a soon-to-be-released book about his life titled Every Little Step, has not shied away from revealing who he believes is responsible for the deaths of both his daughter and ex-wife. Check out the special 20/20 interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts for more details.

Hillary Clinton is the only woman running for president, right? Nope. Meet Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate for president. Stein was also the Green Party’s candidate in the 2012 presidential election, during which she received 469, 501 votes. That’s less than a half-percent (0.3, to be exact) of the total vote. It’s certainly a long shot that she’ll be the nation’s next, and first female president, but Stein has an interesting story — even though said story is stuck in the shadow of Clinton, the anticipated Democratic Party nominee. ABC News’ Meghan Keneally has the report.

The NBA Finals have been far from exciting so far. Heading into the series, a matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers — but more importantly between the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Cav LeBron James — is what everyone wanted and needed before the basketball season came to a close. Yet, two games and two blowouts into the Finals, we’re already reminiscing about the exhilarating seven-game Western Conference Finals between the Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two more Golden State wins and James will suffer his first championship series sweep since his first Finals appearance in 2007. But not so fast. Golden State still has to win two more games, and the numbers say Cleveland has a chance — to not get swept, at least. FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine breaks it down.

Brock Turner’s father was out of line. Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer who was convicted of sexual assault, received a six-month jail sentence. His father, Dan A. Turner, responded to the sentence with a letter calling for probation for his son, not jail time. There’s no harm in defending your child, but the way in which his father did it was utterly distasteful. “That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life,” he wrote. ESPN’s Mike Golic cut neither Turner nor the judge any slack Tuesday morning on Mike & Mike.

Free food

Coffee Break: After winning Super Bowl 50 in February, the Denver Broncos got the treatment every championship-winning squad receives in this country — a trip to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. The Broncos, and particularly Denver’s recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, were greeted in a special, one-word fashion by Obama, an ode to Manning’ favorite audible call.

Snack Time: The Miss USA crown is back in Washington, D.C., for the first time in 14 years. So let’s meet Miss District of Columbia, Deshauna Barber.

Dessert: Today is also Allen Iverson’s birthday. The class of 2016 Hall of Fame inductee, and arguably the best pound-for-pound player in NBA history, turned 41. Remember when he crossed up Michael Jordan?

Kalief Browder

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.

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.

East Los Angeles

is awash in public art

7:00 AMThis week, I took a trip to East Los Angeles to shop for vinyl and, more importantly, found art to look at. I stopped into a little shop called Maintain where they sold art as well as supplies and clothes. There, I talked to the artist on duty who pointed me to a couple different walls around Northeast Los Angles, where its heavy Hispanic population is most certainly active in the art community.

Here’s a mural on the side of the building, where there’s also a barbershop. If you look closely, you’ll see the name of the store in one of the characters.

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#maintain

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Here’s the backside of a restaurant called La Abeja (The Bee). This is technically not a legal wall, but on the far left (not visible in the photo), the artists did include the name of the restaurant as part of the mural.

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Here are a couple more shots from around random parking lots and murals, many legal.

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If you ever get a chance to go, make sure you get out of your car and walk around. There’s plenty to look at.

Kobe Bryant

gets the mural treatment on Melrose Avenue

7:00 AMSpeaking of Los Angeles, of course Kobe Bryant was a legendary Laker there. So, Long Beach artist JC Ro, whose angular style applies fantastically on large-scale works, paid tribute. This time around, for something he calls #MambaOnMelrose, he documented the entire process from outline to finish. Check it out, below.

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update 🎨💨🔺🐍🏀 #MambaOnMelrose

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progress 🎨💨🔺🐍🏀 #MambaOnMelrose

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Should be great pub for Shoe Palace.

X Games

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.

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.

Tokyo 2020

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.

 

Board on Saturday

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!

Theotis Beasley

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.