In 2014, Kobe Bryant wore a shirt that read "I can't breathe" to protest the killing of Eric Garner

By Eric Todisco
May 31, 2020 01:15 PM
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As the country continues to protest the killing of George Floyd, the black man who died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck, Vanessa Bryant is recalling how her late husband Kobe Bryant once sent a powerful message.

On Saturday, Vanessa, 38, shared a throwback photo of her late husband Kobe wearing a black shirt that reads, "I can't breathe" — a line that Floyd had uttered when he was being pinned down while being arrested before he died on Monday.

"My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again.💔 #ICANTBREATHE," the mother of four wrote. "Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short. Let’s share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people."

"Drive out hate," Vanessa said. "Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER ❤️."

Kobe first wore the "I can't breathe" shirt in 2014 to protest the death of Eric Garner, a black male who was killed by police in New York after an officer placed his arm around Garner's neck, during which he uttered, "I can't breathe."

Kobe Bryant
Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

At the time, Kobe addressed his decision to wear the shirt in an interview, saying, "I think it's us supporting that movement, and supporting each other, as well as athletes."

"I think the beauty of our country lies in its democracy," the Los Angeles Lakers star said. "I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for. It's important that we have our opinions, it's important that we stand up for what we believe in. We all don't have to agree with it, and that's completely fine, that's what makes this a beautiful country."

Outrage over racial inequality and police brutality began earlier this week when footage of Floyd surfaced online.

The Minneapolis police officer in the video — identified as Derek Chauvin — has since been fired and was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.

However, public dissent has carried on in the form of protests — which at times have turned violent — throughout many major U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

Throughout the protests, many of the demonstrators have chanted "I can't breathe" to seek justice for Floyd.