SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- On Wednesday night, basketball star Jeremy Lin spoke out about the recent attacks on Asian Americans and opened up about his personal experiences with racism on the court.
Lin, who grew up in Palo Alto and once played for the Golden State Warriors, is now playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G league. Officials with the league are looking into his claim that he was called "coronavirus" during a game.
The basketball star told KPIX 5 he wants to promote the message of empathy, love and compassion. He has chosen not to call out the player who made the offensive comment on the court.
"From my standpoint, it does no good to bring somebody down, when what I'm trying to do is uplift the people that need to be and to bring awareness to the things that need to be brought," said Lin.
When asked when he first became conscious of racism, Lin told KPIX 5, "I never really thought that much about it until I would say I started to play really competitively, and I started to play outside of the Northern California bubble."
The 32-year-old said when he played at Harvard, he was called a racial slur.
"Yeah, multiple times, and even in certain arenas, talking about my eyes, talking about different stereotypes, talking about going back to China, things like that, and I've never named the person," he said.
He says the longstanding problem of anti-Asian racism was exposed during the pandemic.
Lin first talked about his own experience with racism on social media, saying "We are tired of being told that we don't experience racism. We are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble."
"Asians can't only be passionate about Asian issues. African-Americans can't only be passionate about African- American issues. We have to band together. We have to work together, understand each other. We have to listen to each other," Lin told KPIX 5. "And not just between these two groups; between all groups there has to be that kind of solidarity."
For every 3-pointer he makes, Lin says he will donate to an organization that supports youth empowerment or cross-cultural work. He will also highlight the various non-profits on his social media.
The rise in Asian hate has made the basketball star take more pride in his identity. He tells KPIX 5 when he was younger, he didn't want to be known as the basketball player who was Asian. He wanted to be recognized for his talent on the court.
"I'm actually more than okay being the Asian basketball player, if that means that I can do things like this which is stand up for and have a voice for the unheard."
Coach Steve Kerr gave Lin his full support on Friday after reading his Facebook post.
"Really powerful. I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian American community. It's just so ridiculous and obviously spawned by many people, including our former president [Donald Trump], as it relates to the coronavirus originating in China. It's just shocking. I don't know -- I can't wrap my head around any of it, but I can't wrap my head around racism in general," Kerr said.
Lin said he was grateful to hear Kerr's response, and that it reflects well on the Golden State Warriors organization.
"If we can get more people listening that's a win," said Lin. "A big part of it is not only are we trying to get more people listening, we're trying to get more people talking, we're trying to get more people to share their stories, to come out when they experience certain things, to reach out for help."
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