‘It’s not over yet’: Trae Young responds to claim he saved Black man from death

'It's not over yet': Trae Young responds to claim he saved Black man from death
Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young looks on as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic guards him in a game on Oct. 22. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

One NBA coach recently declared Trae Young an American hero.

On Nov. 18, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said Young was one of a handful of professional athletes who had a hand in preventing Julius Jones from being executed.

“It was awesome because a year or two ago, one of the Fox News people [Laura Ingraham] said, ‘Shut up and dribble,’” Rivers told local reporters, according to a video posted by The Athletic’s Rich Hofmann. “You could make the case Blake Griffin, Trae Young, Steph Curry, Baker Mayfield just saved someone’s life.”

Jones, 41, is a Black man in Oklahoma who spent nearly 20 years on death row for a murder he still says he did not commit. In June 2020, NBA stars Griffin, Young and Russell Westbrook sent letters to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt requesting the release of Jones from execution. Griffin is a former Oklahoma University star, as well as Young, who also grew up in Norman, Oklahoma. Westbrook, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, spent the first 11 years of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. According to a Mercury News report from October, Curry called Jones and publicly advocated for his release.

After the Atlanta Hawks’ 115-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 20, Young responded to Rivers’ praise.

“I heard it,” Young told rolling out, during a postgame Zoom availability. “Man, it’s a tough situation. Of course, I feel good that he didn’t get executed that day, but at the same time he’s still locked up for the rest of his life.”

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