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Sky coach James Wade’s message in wake of George Floyd’s death: ‘Something has definitely gotta change’

Wade thought of his young son, Jet: “I can teach him how to act around people, how to act around police, how to act around anybody, but that is not always going to be good enough.”

James Wade gets emotional as he accepts his Coach of the Year award ahead of the Sky’s playoff game against the Phoenix Mercury at Wintrust Arena. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
In a four-minute video, published Sunday evening on the Sky’s Twitter account, James Wade called for equality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

As national outrage over the killing of George Floyd continues, Sky coach James Wade pleaded for equality, saying “everybody has to have the same value.”

In a nearly 4 1⁄2 minute long video, published to the Sky’s social media accounts Sunday evening, Wade reflected on the latest instance of police brutality against a black man.

“I’m coming to you today just with heavy thoughts and full of emotion for the tragic loss of George Floyd,” Wade said. “This was a very tough week for America. Seeing, you know, what transpired — just seeing it live on video, you always hear stories, we’ve seen things before, but the manner of which it happened, it’s just too hard to put into words to hear him — to see him, to see the officers, to see the crowd pleading, it was so tough to watch.”

In response, thousands of protesters hit the streets in Chicago over the weekend, demanding justice for Floyd. Though many demonstrations were peaceful, some protesters and police officers clashed violently. Looting, arson and vandalism ravaged the city.

As Wade, a dual citizen of the U.S. and France, watched last week’s events unfold from Montpellier, France, he thought of his young son, Jet, and the difficult and unfair conversations he has to have with him.

“Being a father to a young boy and having to explain to him that your value in this household is probably not the same as it is in society and you have to act a certain way and be a certain way — and sometimes that won’t be good enough,” Wade said. “I can teach him how to act around people, how to act around police, how to act around anybody, but that is not always going to be good enough.

“I was with him yesterday in the park riding around on a scooter, and he fell. I ran to pick him up. Three minutes later, he turned around and said, ‘Hey daddy, I trust you.’ This touched me because if he grows up and I can’t be around him because he’s out in the world and he’s a grown up, I would like for the trust that he has in me, he can have it in the people who he’s supposed to have it in.”

Wade demanded change.

“It’s been a lot of loss lately,” he said. “It’s been a lot of things that could’ve been avoided. I just pray that all these actions that have happened are not in vain and I pray that the people that it hasn’t seemed to affect as much, that they start to realize for us to be better, for us to improve as a society, everybody has to have the same value. It’s nothing more than to understand that I’m no different from anybody else.

“I cry, I bleed, I want, I strive, I work just like everybody else and don’t want anything better, I just want to be equally valued as a human being, that’s it. And that’s what I want for my child. I want him to be seen as equal. And right now, the mass feeling that’s going around is that’s not the case. This is a tough moment for everyone.

“My prayers and thoughts are with everyone affected by this. My prayers are with everyone not affected that they be affected. So we come to you with everything, all the humbleness that we could have, to say that something’s gotta change. Something has definitely gotta change.”