Video from Los Angeles showed former NBA player J.R. Smith beating a man accused of vandalizing his car during escalating protests in the city.
The video, first published by TMZ Sports, apparently shows the 6-foot-6-inch, 225-pound athlete pummeling the man with a series of punches and kicks.
“When the guy finally stands up on his feet, Smith delivered a final punishing overhand right to the guy’s dome,” the report noted. “Finally, some of J.R.’s friends step in and the other guy scurries off in a hurry.”
Smith later opened up about the incident in a video posted online, saying that there was no racial motivation in his attack on the smaller white man. According to the NBA player, he was protecting his property that had been parked in a residential area and away from stores and other businesses that were looted by protesters as tensions escalated.
“One of these motherfu*king white boys didn’t know where he was going and broke my f*cking window in my truck,” he said, via ESPN.
Smith stressed that he had nothing personally against the person he said was vandalizing his car and seemed to express sympathy for the cause that brought protesters to the street in Los Angeles to demand justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality.
“This ain’t no hate crime. I ain’t got no problem with nobody who ain’t got no problem with me. It’s a problem with the motherf*cking system, that’s it,” he said.
Video of the attack captured viral interest online, with many defending Smith for his actions. The video can be seen below, but be warned that it may be distressing for some viewers.
Los Angeles has seen a number of protests since Floyd’s death on Monday, with many turning violent as protesters damaged property and looted stores.
Smith was not the only NBA player in the news amid the growing protests. As NBA.com reported, Boston Celtics player Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to his hometown of Marietta, Georgia, to lead a peaceful protest this weekend.
At the event, Brown said he felt obligated to use his status to help people in his community demand justice. Video from the protest showed Brown, a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, leading a march in the city.
“Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all,” he said, via NBA.com “First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community. […] We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.”