NBA’s Meyers Leonard to Speak at ADL Event About Antisemitism Education, Lessons Learned From Making Slur
Free-agent NBA forward Meyers Leonard is set to speak at a virtual event about his support for education to help combat antisemitism, following the backlash he received for making antisemitic remarks six months ago.
The former Miami Heat player will speak at a webinar on August 19 hosted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), addressing the importance of education to counter antisemitism and other forms of biases, including learning about the Holocaust.
Leonard “will share the lessons he learned after using an antisemitic slur while participating in online gaming and how he has become a champion of the need to have educators, students and parents involved in antisemitism education,” according to an ADL description of the webinar.
Other speakers for the online event include WNBA champion Alysha Clark, a former member of the Israeli women’s national basketball team and an activist against antisemitism; Jessica Koyner, a student from Connecticut who faced harsh antisemitism in her school; and Melissa Mott, director of the Holocaust education program Echoes & Reflections.
Leonard came under fire in March when he said an antisemitic slur during a live-streamed session of “Call of Duty: Warzone” on the gaming platform Twitch. Following his remarks, the NBA fined the athlete $50,000 and immediately suspended him for one week. He also lost a number of gaming sponsorships.
Leonard apologized for his comments shortly afterwards and in June, grew emotional while speaking to a group of Jewish children at a synagogue in Florida. He told them “I owe everybody, truly, a sincere apology,” and said he had spent recent months thinking about his actions and getting closer to the Jewish community.
“I’ve had a lot of really good moments and some pretty dark emotional moments but I’d just like to say, again, I’m so, so thankful for the people in the Jewish community whether it’s a little kid, a teenager, a high schooler or a rabbi,” Leonard said. “I’ve just been very educated, I’ve had so many events away from the public eye that have just uplifted not only myself, my wife and our immediate family but my friends. I just learned so much and I’m so thankful through a very dark moment. Sometimes people say God works in mysterious ways.”
The Miami Heat traded Leonard in March to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who then waived him. The athlete remains unsigned following nine seasons in the NBA with the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers.