The Daunte Wright killing has garnered impassioned responses from key figures in sports including one player who chose not to play

·6 min read
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  • The Daunte Wright killing has left an impact in professional sports.

  • Figures and organizations have collectively spoken out against police brutality.

  • The reactions even include game postponements and players sitting out.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The killing of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Sunday has reminded sports fans of the role athletes and coaches play in swaying civil discourse.

Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot in the chest by a police officer after getting pulled over for a traffic violation at Brooklyn Center - a Minneapolis suburb. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at a press conference on Monday that the officer who shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop had meant to grab their Taser but grabbed their gun instead. Body-camera footage of the shooting shows that, after the shooting, the officer said: "Holy s---. I just shot him."

As was seen after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August, figures and organizations across professional sports are again taking the initiative to use their platforms to bring attention to the issues of police brutality and racial inequality.

Here's a look at some of the biggest demonstrations in response to Wright's killing in professional sports over the last two days:

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Twins, and Wild

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Monday evening was scheduled to be a busy night in Minnesota sports, as all three of the state's major professional teams that are currently in season were slated to play home games.

But Wright's death and the subsequent protests quickly overshadowed the necessity for local sports. The Timberwolves of the NBA, The Twins of MLB, and The Wild of NHL all postponed their games out of respect for Wright, his family, and others who have been hurt by his death.

The Timberwolves were able to postpone their game against The Brooklyn Nets to Tuesday evening. The Twins will play make up their game against The Boston Red Sox in a doubleheader on Tuesday. The Wild are the most impacted, as they will have to wait until May 12 to make up their game against St. Louis Blues.

The Minnesota Vikings

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The Minnesota Vikings are currently in the NFL offseason, but still made it a point to address Wright's death with an official statement.

Aaron Hicks and The New York Yankees

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New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks went so far as to sit out a game against The Toronto Blue Jays on Monday evening in response to Wright's death.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Hicks came to him on Monday afternoon asking to take the night off.

"It's just been a hard day for him, understandably, emotional," Boone said before the Yankees opened their series against Toronto at TD Ballpark. "He felt like he would have a hard time going out there tonight. All I can do is try the best I can to offer support. I understand how he's feeling."

Pitcher Gerrit Cole and catcher Kyle Higashioka expressed their support for the outfielder's decision after the game.

"I can't walk in Aaron's shoes," Cole said. "But as a teammate, my job is to support him and make sure he's doing all right, if that's an arm around him or a pat on the butt. Whatever he needs to go through emotionally, he needs to go through. So we'll be here for him."

Gregg Popovich

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San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich delivered a passionate response to Wright's killing during a virtual press conference on Monday.

"It just makes you sick to your stomach. How many times does it have to happen?" Popovich told reporters. "... That individual is dead. He's dead. And his family is grieving, and his friends are grieving."

Bradley Beal

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Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of the NBA's most outspoken figures on racial discrimination in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minnesota last May.

Beal renewed his passion for speaking out against social injustice on Monday, speaking for several minutes on Wright's death and the broader issue of racial discrimination in America.

"It's kind of ironic, in the last few years, there's been a lot of those stories coming up," Beal said. "Somebody's fatally shot without having a weapon because the officer thought it was a taser. S---, should we take tasers and guns from police, too, then? What is the ultimate, like what is the end game here? It's frustrating, it's annoying, it continues to happen. It's bulls---, honestly. I don't know. America needs to be better, and we've gotta fix our police system ASAP."

Doc Rivers

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, whose father was a Chicago police lieutenant, said America needs to re-examine its culture in the aftermath of Wright's death.

"I think we have to stop saying it's frustrating for all Black Americans," Rivers said before Monday's game against The Dallas Mavericks. "I think we should be frustrated for all Americans. I don't know if it was a mistake or not. I saw the body cam video like everyone else, but I know that frustration is a real thing for everybody and for us."

Rivers was another of the NBA's key figures in providing advocacy and support to the Black Lives Matter movement last summer and often gave emotional anecdotes relating his own experience as a Black man to other victims of police brutality.

"You keep hearing this cancel culture stuff, but we're canceling Black lives," Rivers said. "To me, that's a little more important in my opinion, and it just keeps happening. We keep making mistakes by killing Black people. I don't want to get to race, but it's there. I think we all have weaknesses, and we all need to confront them and find out how we can make this place a better world and a better country."

Doug Baldwin, Torrey Smith, and Emmanuel Acho

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Former Seattle Seahawks Pro-Bowl wide receiver Doug Baldwin spoke out against the officer who shot Wright on Twitter.

Baldwin was joined on Twitter by fellow former NFL stars wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who echoed the sentiment that the officer's mistake was no excuse for shooting Wright.

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