John Wall has always been one to speak his mind and answer questions directly, though politics isn't often his game. During the preseason last fall he was asked who he was voting for between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and his response was evasive. He didn't want to go there.
But the past week's events, starting with the protests in Charlottesville that included a woman getting killed by a white supremacist driving through a crowd, have clearly weighed on the Wizards' star point guard. Wall spoke at length about the current state of affairs at his charity event at Rosedale Community Center in Northeast Washington on a broiling Friday afternoon.
Wall met with the media, but first made an address to the kids and parents who showed up for his backpack giveaway and other charity efforts. He began by referencing Charlottesville.
"I know this week has been tough for our country with things not going the way we would want them to, but the most important thing is that you can't use that as retaliation. We've all got to treat each other as the same. No matter what color you are, we are all family. We're all in this world trying to make it more peaceful and promising than anything," he said.
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Afterwards, Wall spoke further about how this last week has affected him.
"It's very important [to give back], especially with what has been going on the past week or so in our country and the tough times that we're dealing with. I want the kids to understand that no matter what goes on, you can't use that to try to target nobody else. We're all one whole family. Even though we're different races, we're still one big family. We have to work to try to get things to as best the situation we can and keep it positive," he explained.
"It's been difficult [the last week]," Wall continued. "It's been tough. We go through times where things are going in the right direction for us and our country is going in positive ways, then we revert back to the stuff we try to tell our kids not to do, that our parents told us not to be. We are going through what we went through in the past when we thought we got away from that. It's kind of amazing to think that in 2017 and going into 2018, that we're still dealing with the same type of things that our great, great grandparents dealt with. We thought we were going in a positive direction. All we can do is not use it in retaliation. Try to stay positive and understand that we need to give these kids a brighter [outlook]. Don't use it to go back at these people."
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Wall was asked about the fact he's speaking out, as many athletes don't and he in the past hasn't been someone to delve into politics and current events. He feels now like he has no choice.
"If it's something I feel like I need to speak on, I will speak on it. I feel like with what we're going through, it's kind of tough. What everybody is saying is totally right. We thought we got past those things. Every year there is something that is reverting right back to it. It's something that we're going to have to deal with for the rest of our lives. But as long as we educate our kids and educate our people that we are role models to, and show them that we can't revert back to that, I think we'll be totally fine."
Wall has a platform as an NBA superstar and one that happens to play in Washington, where policies and laws are set. He relishes the power as someone kids look up to, knowing he can make a difference with what he says and does.
"It's me and my personality and what my mom wanted me to be growing up: not just a great basketball player, but having character as a young man. That's what a lot of people look at first. They look at the talents and the things that I do on the basketball court, but they understand how I carry myself off the court, with a clean image and trying to not do things to get in trouble. That's what I pride myself off of."
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