Russell Wilson, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe opened the ESPY Awards with a message of unity.
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(CNN) — The 2020 ESPY Awards opened up with a powerful message Sunday.
“The only thing that must die is racism. Black Lives Matter,” Wilson said. “As millions of people of all colors protest, I see a world of hurt, pain and despair. But I also see a new generation, a generation that is calling out in desperate need for lasting change.”
Wilson said his white teammates and friends also need to lead.
“Don’t just listen, help,” he said.
Bird said Black lives need to matter outside of sports.
“Do Black lives matter to you when they’re not throwing touchdowns? Grabbing rebounds? Serving aces? If that was uncomfortable to hear, good, I used to shy away from moments like this because it’s convenient to be quiet. To be thought of as safe and polite,” she said. “It’s great that sports are back, but George Floyd won’t be there to see them, Breonna Taylor won’t be there to see them.”
Rapinoe said the recent protests are the breaking point for White people.
“This time, we’ve got to have their backs,” she said. “We can’t let sports try and take us back to the way things were. Every athlete at every level has the power to show what it looks like to fight for what is right.”