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Yoeli Childs Will Continue Using His Platform For Black Lives Matter During Pro Career

Brigham Young Cougars forward Yoeli Childs (23) prepares to inbound the ball during the game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Last week, former BYU basketball standout Yoeli Childs opened up about his life experiences as a Black man in the state of Utah.

As Childs put it to me on the Cougar Tracks Podcast, the reaction he’s received from people in the state of Utah has been “more than I could have ever imagined.”

In this historic time that we are currently living in, Yoeli Childs’ message resonated with many. BYU head coach Mark Pope asked his followers on social media to “ponder Yoeli’s words” in a fight against racism.

Childs knew his message and experiences had to be shared so he could give a voice to Black men and women who don’t have as large of a platform as the former BYU basketball has in this state.

Childs wanted to share his experiences with the community he loves

“I believe it’s important to be genuine and it’s important to be yourself all the time,” said Childs to KSL Sports. “And I think that when you’re in a position where people kind of know who you are, and especially with the relationship I’ve been able to develop with this amazing state and with the incredible BYU fans, they really feel like family to me, these are things that I feel you should discuss with your family. So that’s kind of how I look at it as I think that when people are in a position where they’re a little more well known, it’s kind of your duty to express yourself and express the things you go through.

“I’ve always tried to be very open with my conversion [to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and why I chose BYU. I’ve been very open about the suspension I dealt with and all that stuff and this is just another part of my life that I thought was important at the time to share.”

Within those shared experiences on his Instagram post, Childs opened up about times when he was 11 years old walking through a grocery store parking lot. He saw an older white woman, clearly scared, scrambled to walk her door as Childs walked by. Another experience was his brother Masay having a police officer hold a gun to the back of his head for “being in the wrong neighborhood.”

“I think that for me personally, those are the things you kind of get used to dealing with [as a Black man]. As sad as it might sound, when I see police offers I always try to make the conscious effort to smile, wave, come across as friendly because some of the experiences I’ve had have made me realize that some people see a big Black guy as being threatening. So that’s kind of how that’s impacted the way I go about my day-to-day,” said Childs.

“The things that are harder for me personally to grasp and deal with or the situations that my brothers had to face. I think we all understand in our individual families, a lot of times it can be almost harder on you when you see things happening to a loved one than what happens to yourself. So that’s definitely been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. But personally, it’s almost as part of you know, who you are.”

Yoeli Childs will continue using his platform for “the disenfranchised”

Childs sharing these experiences comes at a time where he is preparing for a potential NBA career. The NBA Draft is reportedly taking place on October 16th.

Wherever Childs’ pro career takes him, either the NBA or internationally where he has received six-figure salary offers from Korea and Australia in the past, Childs will continue to use his platform to bring positive change.

“I hope to be someone that always stands up for what I believe in,” Childs said. “I’m someone that when I think about how I want to live my life, I think about the Savior, I think about Jesus Christ. I know some people listening might not be religious people, but that’s just personally how I try to live my life. I try to think [about different scenarios]. What is the Christ-like thing to do here? So that kind of drives the way I act and the way I respond to things. I hope to stand up for the disenfranchised in the way that he did.

“I hope to speak openly and honestly in a way that isn’t violent or argumentative but in a way that seeks real change and understanding. So that’s how I hope to continue my life.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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