The Los Angeles County sheriff on Monday challenged LeBron James to double the reward being offered for information that leads to an arrest of the man who ambushed two deputies over the weekend while they were sitting in their patrol car.
The suspect walked up to the passenger’s side of the patrol car and fired multiple rounds; the deputies were struck and critically wounded. However, both are expected to recover.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar has been a staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter and has been outspoken over the numerous police shootings that involved unarmed Black people. In the wake of the deputies’ shooting, far-right commentators, such as Candace Owens, have laid the blame for the ambush on BLM, stars and athletes, calling out James by name — even though a suspect has not been identified and no motive for the attack is known.
As to why Sheriff Alex Villanueva is spotlighting athlete and actor James, the sheriff said in an interview with KABC Radio, “I know you [James] care about law enforcement. You expressed a very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer-involved shootings and the impact that it has on the African American community. And I appreciated that. But likewise, we need to appreciate that respect for life across professions, across races, creeds, and I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, also weighed in on the sheriff’s challenge to James with criticism about the department, in particular when a number of deputies took and shared pictures of her late husband and daughter’s crash site earlier this year. She filed a legal claim in May.
James has not responded to the attacks from the far-right, nor Villanueva’s challenge. The Lakers will either face the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.
12:20 p.m.: Updated to reflect Vanessa Bryant reacted to the sheriff’s challenge to James.