Los Angeles police are treating a racial slur spray-painted on an outside gate of a home owned by LeBron James as a hate crime.
Police were called to James’ L.A. home Wednesday morning after the word was discovered on the front gate.
James, who also has a home in Bath Township, was not at either residence at the time. He and his teammates are in the San Francisco area preparing for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
James addressed the media later in the day and said the issue of racism in America has once again reared its ugly head and taken center stage.
He said he is thankful his family is safe.
“If this sheds a light and continues to keep the conversation going, then I’m OK with it,” he said. “My family is safe. I thank God my family is safe and that’s most important.
“It just goes to show that racism will always be part of the world, part of America. [Living with] hate in America — especially for African-Americans — is living every day.”
James said this incident and others show that some will “smile to your face” yet hold racist feelings in their hearts.
“So it’s like no matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you — being black in America is tough,” he said. “We have a long way to go.”
TMZ Sports, which first reported the crime, notes that James purchased the home in 2015.
Workers have already removed the vandalism.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from homes in the area in attempt to nab the culprit.
Bath Township Police Chief Michael B. McNeely said there is a 24-hour police presence at James’ home there.
James personally hires off-duty officers from the department, McNeely said, to ensure all is quiet in and around the home.
“You usually won’t necessarily see the officer, but the officer is always there,” he said.
With the NBA Finals upon us, McNeely said, the department will beef up patrols in the neighborhood as officers expect the number of sightseers to rise.
“If they win or lose, we will be prepared for additional traffic,” he said.
The fans are usually polite and move along when asked.
McNeely said there has not been a single incident of vandalism or other problems outside James’ home since he moved to the township.
However, there have been some arrests made in the street outside the residence.
The chief noted a handful of incidents in which passers-by refused to promptly move their cars out of the road. And when the officers ran the drivers’ licenses, they found that there were warrants out for their arrests.
“We have really never had any issues at his home,” McNeely said. “It is probably one of the most quiet places in Bath Township.
“We have a lot of traffic go by, but we’ve never had any real problems.”
Craig Webb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3547.