LeBron James Criticizes Donald Trump As Athletes React to Charlottesville Violence

LeBron James has often shown himself to be an athlete unready to bury his head in the sand when it comes to social justice.

James proved that again when he tweeted an apparent criticism of President Donald Trump's actions and words regarding the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a white nationalist protest resulted in violence and the death of a woman.

"It's sad what's going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that," James wrote, referring to Trump's 2016 electoral campaign slogan.

Trump has been widely criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for his failure to single out white nationalists for blame over the clashes that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist protester. Trump spoke of violence "on many sides" after white nationalist groups descended on Charlottesville for a "Unite the Right" march against the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee.

Trump's daughter and close adviser Ivanka went further than her father in her criticism, labeling the far-right protesters in Charlottesville as "white supremacists and neo-Nazis." Mike Pence, the vice president, condemned the marchers in quotes reported by The Hill on Sunday evening but defended Trump's response. "We have no tolerance for hate and violence, white supremacists or neo-Nazis or the KKK," Pence said. "The president also made clear that behavior by others of different militant perspectives are also unacceptable in our political debate and discourse."

James is not the only athlete to speak out over the events in Charlottesville. Chris Long, the Philadelphia Eagles defensive end, called the far-right protesters "man babies" in a tweet posted on Saturday. Long attended high school in Charlottesville and went to the University of Virginia.

"Obviously, people ask, 'You're from Charlottesville?' [and] it kind of leaves a bad taste in their mouths thinking that one of their guys is from Charlottesville, where they see all these rallies and stuff happening," Long's brother and fellow NFL player Kyle said. "Like I said, don't let a few bad apples ruin what is really true about Charlottesville and that area—there's good folks there."

In February, James, 32, was presented with the NAACP's Jackie Robinson Sports Award for "high achievement in athletics and contributions in the pursuit of social justice, civil rights and community involvement." The LeBron James Family Foundation, founded by the Cleveland Cavaliers small forward in 2004, works in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to mentor inner-city children through school.