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LeBron James Not Encouraging Young and Black Americans to Get Vaccinated is Disappointing

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LeBron James speaks out on all significant social and political matters, unless they relate to genocide, China, slave labor, or the deaths of police officers. Oh, and now there’s a new topic he won’t touch, COVID-19 vaccines. Per LeBron, that is “private” and none of our business.

Tuesday, a day after his comments were discussed at large, with nearly all of the media siding with LeBron, Stephen A. Smith reversed course. On First Take, Smith pleaded with LeBron to encourage Americans to get the shot.

“So we get back to LeBron James, and I say this to LeBron James, my brother, all of our brothers, who’s an incredibly, incredibly influential figure, I would say to him, he has taken positions on many, many, many things of incredible importance to our community,” Smith said. “One could easily argue when you see the number of deaths that have come associated with COVID-19, it’s very little that he has encountered that is more challenging or daunting than this, and if you could speak up about those things, you just might want to think about speaking up about this.”

On its face, I would never condemn athletes for avoiding a vaccine conversation. They have no obligation to participate in it. However, given LeBron’s history of injecting himself into nearly every political and social topic, sitting out one of this magnitude is puzzling and disappointing.

Few matters have been as important for the country, as a whole, as getting the vaccine is. Increasing the number of Americans who receive the vaccine (any of three available in the US) is the only path to reaching herd immunity and normalcy quickly. LeBron classified getting Donald Trump out of office as a matter of life and death — but the vaccines, in many cases, are literally a matter of life and death.

Smith cited the lack of black vaccinated citizens as the reason for his call to LeBron:

“If you look at the hospitals, and you look at people with pre-existing conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and things of that nature, clearly when you look at that you see that the African American community is disproportionately affected, and something needs to be done,” he went on. “And when we look at the 50-plus million people who have been vaccinated, most happen to be white.

For context, there is a reported hesitancy in black Americans to get the vaccine. ABC News reports, as a result, estimates found 5.4% of those vaccinated are black.

Smith believes LeBron can encourage a substantial number of black Americans to receive the vaccine. I will take it a step further and say that LeBron could lead to a surge in vaccination acceptance among young adults of all races.

Many young Americans pay far more attention to LeBron than the CDC, Dr. Fauci, President Joe Biden, and other Washington politicians. Americans under 30, a demo that idolizes LeBron, are alarmingly reluctant to get the shot. Though this age group is at lower-risk of contracting COVID, it’s still highly recommended they receive the vaccine when available so that they are protected against spreading the virus.

In a recent survey concluded in January, 47% of adults under 30 said they would not get the vaccine if available to them. Only 17% of those over 50 would say no. (The report uses the word “if,” which applies only to those who have not received the vaccine. Therefore, essential workers under 30 who are already vaccinated may not have been factored in this study.)

LeBron may be a hypocrite, but he’s also incredibly influential and could have an invaluable impact on the fight against COVID. LeBron not only wasted an opportunity to make a change, his silence on the vaccine likely raised doubts about its safety among his supporters.

“If LeBron isn’t sure, maybe I’ll wait,” a few of his strongest supporters probably concluded.

The worst days of COVID are likely beyond us, but it’s not over yet. And all of us, white or black, liberal or conservative, rich or poor, male or female — would benefit from a quick return to normalcy, to life, to happiness. Few individuals can influence public opinion on matters like vaccinations, but LeBron is one of them. He opted not to.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

39 Comments

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    • Yep. Though I do agree with him. I am not going to take an experimental gene therapy that has no long term studies. I’ll take my chances with a 99.98% survival rate.. and therapeutics like hydroxychloroquine. Anyone notice that FDA and CDC quietly approve its use after Trump is out of office? Makes me sick.

  1. As inconsistent as he is on so many issues, this one has a HUGE grey area and I don’t blame him for sitting it out. The simple fact that the patent for these “vaccines” does not state that they will give anyone immunity (they state that they will “reduce covid 19 symptoms”) should give anyone pause as to whether they should receive it or not. The shot is a medical treatment, not a vaccination. It is also experimental. By all means, anyone who wants it should get it. But I’m not sure it should be “influenced” by anyone either.

  2. Who in the hell is waiting on Lebron’s opinion to decide if it’s worth getting a vaccine? The same people who mental capabilities had them listen to Jenny McCarthy on essentially the same topic?

    When I used to watch basketball, I would appreciate what they did on the court. Ended there. When I used to watch Jenny McCarthy I would stare at boobs. Ended there.

  3. Why are we looking to LeBron for medical advice? Bobby, you are way off base here. If we want LeBron to help with Covid, we should look to him for advice on exercise and nutrition to get behind decreasing obesity rates, which will decrease severity of Covid symptoms.

  4. “Few matters have been as important for the country, as a whole, as getting the vaccine is.”

    Ok, Coronabro. Count me out – I’ll take my chances with the 99.7% survival rate.

  5. The problem isn’t that LeBron James doesn’t want to discuss vaccination. The problem is this idea that people would take the vaccination just because someone of celebrity status said so. These are decisions that one would make based on advice from healthcare professionals and maybe the government if they trust them.

    Young adults 30 and under don’t want the vaccine? Smart decision. That group has negligible risk. They should wait and see how it affects other people. Maybe a better alternative comes out within the next year. This is a quick fix for older age groups and the immunocompromised.

    Normalcy will return soon. Well, maybe a newly defined version of “normalcy.”

  6. Not agreeing with this article’s point of view. Many countries have banned the vaccine. You do realize China, the country that hasn’t had masks since August isn’t making all of their citizens get vaccinated so idk why anybody would.

  7. “Few matters have been as important for the country, as a whole, as getting the vaccine is. Upping the number of Americas who receive the vaccine (any of three available in the US) is the only path to a quicker reach of herd immunity and normalcy.”

    Dammit, this shot does not confer immunity! It only mitigates symptoms. The virus can still be caught and spread. It isn’t even a true vaccine, in that it does not contain portions of the true virus.

    Surely Outkick is not supporting this nonsense? Clay?

  8. I get that LBJ has “influence” but… if you’re waiting on a blessing from a guy who puts a ball through a hoop then you should go play in traffic. Mild hypocrisy from LeBron but this is a nothing-burger. I’m 29 and I have no plans to get a vaccine. I’m not anti-vax but the risk/reward isn’t there for me if my chance of hospitalization (let alone death) is virtually zero. Everyone is their own adult and can make their own choices when it comes to this shit.

  9. I finally agree with LeBron on something..
    Great player, team mate.
    Not so great SJW & hypocrite politician.

    But, seriously, who actually believes in this relentlessly force fed word, ‘vaccine’?
    For a virus with a 99 1/2% survival rate?
    Backed by a media and government that lies all day every day?
    No, thank you.
    But they’ll probably try to jab everyone who wants to get on a plane or work…

    Echoing some of the above, “WTF, Outkick?”

    • Agreed. All I’ll say is this. John’s Hopkins gives pages of FAQs on the covid shot(I’m not calling it a vaccine), and at the end the last question is this.

      “Does Johns Hopkins Medicine recommend I get a COVID-19 vaccine?”

      After pages of defense of the shot here’s their answer.

      “You alone make the decision about whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage you to talk to your primary care doctor and review our resources provided here, as well as information from other health care organizations.”

      Not exactly a ringing endorsement to a straightforward yes or no question. How can anyone wonder why folks might be a tad uncomfortable injecting this in their body with no long term studies? They haven’t even completed initial trials on pregnant women or children under 12!

  10. Because I disagree with LeBron on most issues political does not mean I disagree with all of them, this is one. I’m happy Lebron is keeping this a private issue, though it does stand out in all the other issues he’s outspoken on. Vaccines are hit and miss and we don’t have a lot of feedback from the populace since the inoculations at large are very recent.

    He could parse the message by telling older and overweight to get the shot as older Americans, and Americans in general, are too often overweight, vulnerable. Little to lose, much to gain. And I believe blacks have the biggest problem with obesity by percentage, though plenty to go around obviously. But if he did that it might bring more questions, and nuance is not something in which he is familiar.

  11. I’m not with you on this. It’s no one’s business but yours if you want or don’t want to get a shot. Period. I don’t care if it’s Lebron or Trump. Folks need to back the heck off of other’s health decisions. If you’re scared and think this shot will magically cure a cold virus strain, go get your shot. This isn’t polio or small pox for crying out loud.

  12. Let’s not forget the Queen has a 12th grade education (on paper at least) and plays basketball for a living. Why do we care what he thinks about vaccines? This is one big thing that is wrong with our current culture, we give too much credence to the opinions of wealthy people even when it is not in their realm of expertise.

  13. Healthy, young and not at risk person of any color, race religion, identifies as, etc especially potentially child bearing should not take an experimental, not studied for long term effects, so called vaccine. 99% of people with no preexisting conditions under the age of 75 survive even if they get Covid.

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