F1 Driver Lewis Hamilton Recounts 'Nerves' Before Wearing Breonna Taylor Shirt on Race Podium
Lewis Hamilton is reflecting on the risks he's taken to speak out about issues that matter to him as he's named WSJ. Magazine's first-ever sports innovator for the upcoming Innovator Awards.
In the interview with WSJ. Magazine for the November issue, on newsstands the 13th, the British Formula 1 driver recounts deciding to wear a black T-shirt before and after a race last year that read "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor" on the front, with an image of Taylor on the back and the words "Say her name." Taylor, 26, was shot and killed inside her home by police in March.
The 36-year-old says that he knew that in order for his shirt to really make an impact, he needed to take first: "I can't be second. I'm wearing that shirt; I've got to get to first to bring light to her name."
Luckily, Hamilton won — and then the fears kicked in. "I get these nerves like, 'Shoot, I'm about to break the rules and people aren't going to be happy with it,' " he recounts of his feelings before stepping onto the podium.
Formula 1 subsequently changed the rules about what drivers can wear on the podium after races. Hamilton takes the fairly obvious reaction to his statement in stride: "Well, they'vechanged a lot of rules after a lot of things that I've done."
Hamilton also talks to WSJ. Magazine about being the lone Black driver to reach the top of Formula 1, and the other sports icons that he's looked to on his journey.
"My dad and I would watch people like Tiger [Woods] who kind of broke the mold, and we watched in admiration. The Williams sisters also did the same," he says. "We're like, 'Oh, if we could do something like that, that's going to help change the industry moving forward.' "
He previously spoke to PEOPLE last year about the challenges of being Black and growing up on the racing circuit, and how he moved through. He said at the time, "We had things thrown at us, particularly a lot of words, but my dad said, 'Do your talking on the track,' because I'm a fighter. I got bullied at school, so I always wanted to be able to defend myself, or fight back, but my dad's like, 'Do your talking on the track.' "
Hamilton is one of eight cultural trailblazers being honored at WSJ. Magazine's Innovator Awards next week.
The Innovator Awards — which have been presented for 10 years — honor inspiring talents from a variety of cultural pursuits. Following up last year's all-virtual Innovator Awards, WSJ. Magazine is again premiering a virtual 2021 presentation on the same night as the in-person ceremony in New York City, on Nov. 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Fans can register to watch the ceremony online here.