Lakers Forward, Former Ute Kyle Kuzma On Race In The Players Tribune

Jun 9, 2020, 2:08 PM | Updated: 2:10 pm
Kyle Kuzma...
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former University of Utah forward Kyle Kuzma won’t stick to sports. Kuzma now of the Los Angeles Lakers wrote an article for the Players Tribune on his experience with racism in America. The son of a white mother and Black father, Kuzma grew up in Flint, Michigan before playing basketball for the Utes.

“When I was a kid, some of the black kids in my neighborhood would say, “You’re not black,” Kuzma wrote. “But then when I got to Bentley High, all of a sudden I’m like one of the only black kids at an all-white school. I heard all kinds of racist things, racist jokes.”

Kuzma spent three seasons in Utah before being drafted by Los Angeles. The Lakers selected the Utes forward with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft.

“I’m sure a lot of biracial kids have that kind of similar story of not being black enough for the black kids and not being white enough for the white kids,” Kuzma said in the article. “As a kid, you don’t know the history behind all that.”

In the Players Tribune piece, Kuzma tells the story of growing up in Flint.

“Everybody knows Flint as one of those violent hotspots,” Kuzma said. “A city with no clean water or development. But I bet a lot of people don’t know that in the ’50s and ’60s, Flint was one of the fastest-growing places in the country.”

Despite his grandmother being a former police lieutenant, Kuzma said he still feels paranoid when he gets pulled over.

“Even as an athlete, I’m still scared when I get pulled over,” Kuzma wrote. “If I’m driving and I see a cop, I’m checking my rearview mirror for like the next five minutes.”

Kuzma Outspoken Beyond Players Tribune

The Lakers forward voice hasn’t been limited to the Players Tribune. The former Ute has been outspoken about racial inequality on Twitter.

“The judicial & educational systems of America need to be reviewed and changed ASAP,” Kuzma tweeted. “We live in a different world and TIME than our ancestors.”

Kuzma joined Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony’s YouTube channel to discuss the protests that have swept the nation.

“Out there, it’s a lot of good cops, too,” Kuzma said. “You’ve got to look at both spectrums. There’s a lot of racist people out there that are in cop uniforms and for me, I think, it’s more so about the system than it is the actual departments.”

Kuzma’s Voting Initiative

In light of the protests, Kuzma said he plans to start a voting initiate to educate potential voters.

“I’m launching a voting campaign that’s going to help get people’s eyes on where primaries and elections are being held in every state this year,” Kuzma said. “I’m dropping something very soon.”

The forward will rejoin the Lakers when the season resumes in late July to complete the NBA season. The Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference.

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