Fact check: No, LeBron James didn’t say ‘a girl can’t even stab her friends anymore’
The claim: LeBron James said, ‘We’re at the point where a girl can’t even stab her friends anymore’
Pro basketball star LeBron James, an outspoken celebrity voice for social justice, made waves this week when he posted, and then deleted, a photo of a Columbus, Ohio, police officer who shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl.
James, an Ohio native, posted the photo to Twitter with the words “you’re next” in all capital letters and along with an hourglass emoji and the hashtag #accountability. He soon deleted it, saying the post was “being used to create more hate.”
But the Los Angeles Lakers star never lamented that Bryant wasn’t allowed to stab someone, as posts scattered across social media claim.
Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon shot and killed Bryant on April 20, just before a jury returned three guilty verdicts in the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Body camera footage police released that night shows Bryant holding a knife with a woman pinned against a car as Reardon shot her.
Facebook posts use photos of James, some on the court in his No. 23 jersey, others while standing in front of media to answer questions, with the quote “We’re at the point where a girl can’t even stab her friends anymore.”
While the fake quote appears to trace back to a satirical website, The Glorious American, some users didn’t get the memo.
“I’m confused did he really say that if he did I’ve lost all respect,” one commenter wrote on the April 22 meme.
In response to a USA TODAY inquiry to the website’s general email, an individual identified as Scott Flores, its editor-in-chief, said its content is “100% satirical.” Flores is not listed on the website.
What do we know about Bryant’s death?
Columbus Police responded to a 911 call around 4:35 p.m. on April 20 about an attempted stabbing, and about 10 minutes later officers on the scene reported the shooting, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Reardon, a 22-year-old officer who joined the department in December 2019, shot Bryant, according to police.
Body camera footage shows several people in the driveway of a home as Reardon exited his cruiser. Bryant is holding a knife and moving toward another woman, who falls on the ground, in the video. Bryant then moves toward a third woman against the hood of a parked car.
Reardon says “get down” several times before shooting Bryant. Officers provide medical aid after Bryant falls to the ground. She was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m., according to The Dispatch.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
A police officer shot and killed a 16-year-old Black teen after arriving on the scene to respond to reports of an attempted stabbing in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: COLUMBUS DIVISION OF POLICE)
What did LeBron James say?
The day after the shooting, James posted the photo of Reardon on Twitter. He later deleted the Tweet, saying in a follow-up he was “tired of seeing Black people killed by police.”
“I took the tweet down because it’s being used to create more hate – this isn’t about one officer,” he wrote. “It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
In another post, James said while he is still angry “for what happened (to) that lil girl,” anger doesn’t do “any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though!”
He never suggests Bryant should have been allowed to stab someone.
That claim appears to trace back to a post in The Glorious American, a website with the tagline “Satire for the Right. And the wrong.” It attributes this quote to James: “Ya know, it’s getting to the point where a girl can’t even stab her friends anymore.” USA TODAY could find no credible reference to James having said that.
“We go out of our way to clearly label all of our content as satire and we insist other news outlets do the same,” the website’s editor wrote in an email to USA TODAY.
LeBron James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter will be part-owners of the Boston Red Sox. (Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)
Our ruling: False
The claim that James said, “We’re at the point where a girl can’t even stab her friends anymore” is FALSE, based on our research. The claim originated on a satirical website but was picked up and turned into a meme shared widely across Facebook, prompting some users to believe it was true. USA TODAY could find no reference to James saying the quote in credible media sources.
Our fact-check sources:
- The Columbus Dispatch, April 20, “Ma’Khia Bryant: What we know about the Columbus police shooting of the 16-year-old girl”
- The Columbus Dispatch, April 21, “Ma’Khia Bryant shooting: Columbus police release 911 calls, ID of officer involved”
- The Columbus Dispatch, April 22, “Columbus police body camera footage shows killing of Ma’Khia Bryant”
- ESPN, April 21, “LeBron James explains why he deleted tweet on police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant”
- Twitter, April 21, LeBron James Twitter post
- Twitter, April 21, LeBron James Twitter post
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