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Kobe Bryant’s Former High School Basketball Team Makes Bold Statement Against Discrimination

“As a team we believe in fighting for the rights of all.”

The Lower Merion High School basketball team, the alma mater of Kobe Bryant, unveiled warm up t-shirts voicing support for Muslims and immigrants before their championship game on Tuesday. The members of the Lower Merion Aces wore black t-shirts with the message “I am a Muslim. I am a refugee. I am an immigrant. I am an American. I am an Ace.”

City of Basketball Love reports that the shirts were designed by Najja Walker-X, a senior on the team who, along with other players, had been sitting during the national anthem. The story quotes Walker-X as saying the idea behind the shirts was “to come together as a team to find a way to spread the message to everybody without them having to go through the coaches to know what’s going on with us.”

The team plans to wear the shirts for the remainder of the season and is currently selling them for $10 with all proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union. The players also issued a statement:

What’s beautiful about America is that everyone is different. And whether we are black, white, brown, orange, yellow, or red, it is our legal right to express our opinions and beliefs. In the last few weeks, our team has been criticized by a few people because some of us choose to sit and others choose to stand for the national anthem. We have not been unified on the issue and we realize we may never be. That is ok. We are free to disagree and have different points of view. We are free to express our First Amendment rights.

What we do want to convey, however—as a full team—is that no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you should be welcomed, respected, and heard. As a team we believe in fighting for the rights of all—protecting, defending, and giving voice to those who feel marginalized, who live in fear, and who face injustice. We recently met and decided that the best way to express our views on what concerns us about what’s happening in the world is to show a unified front and to wear a t-shirt with a message. Our t-shirts tonight say:

‘I am a Muslim. I am a refugee. I am an immigrant. I am an American. I am an Ace.’

The goal of this message is to be inclusive and representative of people of all backgrounds and emphasize that we are all in this together. That no matter who we are and where we’re from, we are all Aces.

Lastly, we want to make clear our respect for those who serve and have served our country defending freedom and liberty. We are forever grateful for your contributions.

Thank you for your consideration and enjoy the game.

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