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Leonard Hamilton to ESPN: “I see people from all races, young and old, energized at a level that is really, really different than what I’ve seen in the past”

Florida State men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton is one of the pillars of the game. Hamilton has run Florida State’s program since 2002; under his guidance, FSU basketball has reached record-setting heights. On an annual basis, Hamilton’s squad competes for the ACC crown, while continuing to place guys in the NBA.

By every definition, he is a titan of the sport. However, Hamilton’s run of success — and the odds he’s competed against — started long before he turned Florida State into a power. Hamilton has spent most of the last six decades coaching in college basketball.

Hamilton, 71, grew up in the era of Jim Crow. He knows the world of segregation and oppression and inequity. His thoughts and words carry weight. Hamilton is now one of the most influential voices in American sports, and he’s willing to speak up.

After the recent murder of George Floyd, protests have struck up all over the world, starting in Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s murder. The protests have grown in size and have turned violent, with police orchestrating extreme measures of violence. By the middle of this week, rallies have taken place in all 50 states. Tallahassee, home to Florida State, has been the location for several rounds of notable protests, too.

Earlier this week, Hamilton reached out to Andrea Adelson ESPN; he wanted to speak extensively on the topic. What followed is well worth a read: Leonard Hamilton, in his own words, on police brutality, existing as a black man in America, and what happens next.

As ESPN points out at the top of the story, Hamilton’s decision to reach out to Adelson came prior to fallout with the football program after it was revealed that head coach Mike Norvell lied about communicating with every player on the time of the murder of Floyd.

It should be noted, too, that, less than three months ago, Hamilton addressed the media after the abrupt end to the 2020 ACC Tournament. Speaking from my own experience in the Greensboro Coliseum’s media room, as the world was starting to spin amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton’s words reassured. It can be easy to lose trust in leadership, on all levels; however, that day, Hamilton spoke clearly and effectively. Mostly, Hamilton spoke about how much his players and their well-being — and the well-being of their families — mattered most. It was proof that there are still some adults in the room.