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Rapper E-40 claims racial bias after ejection from NBA playoff arena

E-40 removed from Kings-Warriors Game 1
E-40 removed from Kings-Warriors Game 1 00:45

The Sacramento Kings are investigating allegations from a Bay Area hip-hop star that "racial bias" led to him being kicked out of his seat during a playoff game against the Golden State Warriors.

The rapper E-40 said in a statement that he was heckled throughout the game Saturday night and addressed one heckler "in an assertive but polite manner" before security guards came and ordered him to leave the arena.

"Unfortunately, it was yet another reminder that — despite my success and accolades as a musician and entrepreneur — racial bias remains prevalent," he said in a statement. "Security saw a disagreement between a Black man and a white woman and immediately assumed that I was at fault."

He added that the experience was "jarring" and humiliating.

The Kings said they are investigating the circumstances behind the ejection.

Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings
Earl Stevens, known as the rapper E-40, yells at arena security personnel before being escorted from courtside during Game One of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center on April 15, 2023 in Sacramento, California. Getty Images

"The Sacramento Kings take these claims seriously and are investigating the facts and circumstances regarding the situation, as we do anytime an accusation like this is made," the team said in a statement.

The Kings said "E-40 was standing excessively and repeatedly blocking the view of guests behind him. After receiving multiple complaints, he was given a warning and refused to comply. There was a multiprong effort by Kings and Warriors security teams to deal with the situation, escort him from his seat, and avoid further disruption."

One person familiar with the situation concurred, telling The Associated Press E-40, whose real name is Earl Stevens, was standing and blocking the view of fans behind him and was given a warning after several complaints. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of the situation weren't released publicly. The person said E-40 refused to comply and that security officials for the Warriors and Kings escorted him from his seat.

But a second person familiar with the situation, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP E-40 was never given a warning by security about "excessive standing."

E-40 is a prominent Warriors fan and was even part of the delegation that visited the White House earlier this season.

"It's unfortunate," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "I love 40. He's been our biggest supporter for years. I hope they right that ship because he deserves to be there by our bench. In my time knowing him, he's always been respectful. He's always been considerate of those around him. Very weird to see, and I hope it's resolved."

CBS Bay Area notes that E-40 is one of the most prominent hip-hop artists to emerge from the Bay Area scene and is credited with introducing "hyphy" -- a long-established style and subculture of East Bay hip hop that grew out of his own "mobb music" in the '90s -- to the world with his Lil Jon-produced track "My Ghetto Report Card" in 2006.

Most recently, the rapper teamed with fellow Bay Area icon Too $hort  and SoCal hip-hop giants Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg as the group Mount Westmore, releasing an album and serving as one of the headliners for last years BottleRock Napa Valley music festival.

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