Rapper Jay Z, who famously addressed racial profiling in his 2003 hit "99 Problems," has been strangely silent on the grand jury's decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case. But some news outlets were reporting that the New York native took a stand Monday night when he hand-delivered "I can't breathe" T-shirts to Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers players. LeBron James was among the five athletes who wore the shirts at Monday's high-profile game attended by Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Jay Z hand-delivered a set of "I CAN’T BREATHE" shirts to the Brooklyn Nets locker room before their game on monday. pic.twitter.com/m2Xlpa7rPF
— BlackElegance® (@BoubaCGueye) December 9, 2014
"I can't breathe" were the last words repeated by Garner, a 43-year-old black man from Staten Island who died after white police officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a fatal chokehold in July. A grand jury last week chose not to indict Pantaleo, kick-starting protests nationwide in which demonstrators used "I can't breathe" as a rallying cry. Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose wore a special-ordered black shirt with the message before his game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Rumors flew Monday when James and other players wore their own version during warm-ups at the Barclays Center. Ghostwriter of Jay Z's memoir "Decoded" dream hampton tweeted that the rapper delivered the shirts to the locker room. The New York City Justice League reportedly didn't have one in Jay Z's size.
But ESPN reported Nets player Jarrett Jack found and distributed the shirts. "I reached out to my people out here ... they was able to make it happen, they made a few shirts for those guys happen over there, so I know us as a team, we're gonna go out and try to make a stance and show that we're a team that's not with prejudice," Jack told reporters.
— 7NEWS Denver Channel (@DenverChannel) December 9, 2014
If Jay Z did provide the shirts to the Cavaliers and Nets, it would be his first public statement about the Garner case. Hip hop artists Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Questlove and P. Diddy have used social media to express their anger, but Jay Z has remained mum on the subject.