Black Athletes Have Indeed Become Targets

By Gregory Moore
Updated: December 20, 2007

Shelden Williams

Shelden Williams

SAN ANTONIO“Atlanta forward Shelden Williams escaped without injury when he was carjacked at gunpoint last Saturday before the Hawks’ game against Charlotte. Two suspects were arrested with his car hours later.”

Douglasville City Police said two suspects were arrested last Saturday afternoon at Arbor Place Mall in Douglas County, near Atlanta. The suspects were in Williams’ car and were attempting a robbery, according to an officer who answered the phone at the Douglasville Police Department.

The officer, who declined to give her name, said one suspect was taken to a hospital after suffering dog bites from the police canine unit during the arrest.

As of Sunday, the suspect was still hospitalized, but his injuries are not serious, according to the Douglasville police. The officer said the names of the suspects wouldn’t be released Saturday night.

Fulton County Police spokesman Gary Syblis said Williams was approached by two men outside a barber shop. One man pulled out a gun and demanded Williams’ keys to his 2008 Chrysler, according to Syblis.”

That was the beginning of a news story about Williams as he left an Atlanta barber shop to go to the game. It is also just another news story of how professional athletes, mainly African Americans, are becoming targets. Now I’m not saying that professional White athletes in this country aren’t targets either but for the most part, the stories that are coming out have involved Black athletes.

Some of the crimes have been snatch and grabs. Some have been car jackings. Some have been burglaries. Many of them has had professional athletes as the victims; some had collegians as the victims. Whatever the societal status one thing is certain: around the holiday season criminals seem to go after those who have the means more than ever.

It’s a tragedy that athletes of any color cannot simply go through life without being a target of somebody else’s greed. I’ve long stated that if a black man has to steal from another black man or he has to kill for something that he can never attain on his own anyway, he is not welcomed by anyone that I know of.

Law abiding citizens work hard for what they attain and that includes guys like Sheldon, Sean Taylor, Stephon Marbury and others. But the reality is there and the temptation is great. For so many it is so easy to take from the rich thinking that that’s what they are there for. Sadly what happens is sometimes a player gets injured in the process like what happened to Darrent Williams earlier this year.

The dangers are there and the players know it. All too often I have written in this space how professional athletes need to ‘tone it down’ so that they can be safe and all too often we get situations in which guys are caught in some very compromising positions. I’m not saying that professional athletes need to stay in the house but when will these guys realize that all of the flaunting does attract a lot of attention.

Which is why I am puzzled by Sheldon’s situation. He wasn’t driving anything flashy. No Maybach. No Lambo. No tricked out Hummer. He was driving the “poor man’s Bentley”, a Chrysler 300. That car is common today. You see them everywhere. And the carjackers probably didn’t know who he was either. Sheldon was being low key and he still got zapped.

That’s the danger in itself. Nobody is safe in public. Pick a community and it has that seedy element that preys upon others. If you drive a nice ride, if you look like you have a little bit of positive cash flow, there are those who think you need to support them and they do that by sticking you up and taking what you worked hard for. It’s been going on probably as long as man has been walking upright but it is still sickening just the same.

Williams was just going to get his hair cut. Darrent Williams was leaving a party with friends. Antoine Walker was minding his own business when he was robbed and so were many other well known athletes. Yet don’t be surprised if you start seeing more and more of these situations.

With the likes of programs like MTV Cribs, tabloids and the like, these guys and other celebrities are going to be targets. Is that the price of fame and fortune? Probably but being subjected to a terroristic action like a car jacking or the like shouldn’t be one of the hazards in the profession.

Celebrities aren’t anyone special when you think about it. They all do the same things we do every day. They get up, they go to work and they make money to pay the bills.

Maybe what should happen is for the criminal element that thinks they have a right to terrorize the public may need to feel a little reistence and possible fear of their own. Nothing is worse than fear and sometimes when a person who is fearful decides to use that fear to protect themselves, it puts the other criminals on notice.

Don’t be surprised when we read a news story of a celebrity or professional athlete who had to use deadly force on an intruder. Yeah that day is coming pretty soon too.

It’s just a matter of time. Hopefully it won’t happen during this holiday season or during any time of the year coming up.