Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson made their first public statements since the death of George Floyd sparked protests against racially driven police brutality in the United States.
Floyd died in police custody last Monday in Minneapolis when an officer kneeled on his neck while he lay handcuffed on the ground, leading to widespread demonstrations and riots in multiple American cities.
Wilson said he fears for the lives of his children in the current climate, recalling stories he heard of the tension and violence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, saying, "The past has never left us."
"As a stepdad to one of the most amazing kids I've ever known, a young boy with so much passion, talent, intelligence, and love for others; as a father to one of the most bright, brilliant and vibrant young girls in the world and a new baby boy on the way . . . I fear," Wilson wrote on Twitter.
"I fear for their lives just like my grandmother feared for my dad's life and the lives of her other children. I fear because of the colour of their beautiful chocolate skin.
"The video of George Floyd broke my heart. Seeing someone's life taken so cruelly makes us want to rage and lash out.
"But then I ask myself, what would George Floyd want? He told us. He just wanted his mother. He wanted his life. He simply wanted to breathe."
Mahomes said he has been "blessed to be accepted" as a mixed-race man and hopes sports can provide a blueprint for greater racial harmony in the future.
"The senseless murders that we have witnessed are wrong and cannot continue in our country," Mahomes said. "All I can think about is how I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background, and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal.
"I hope that our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted. We all need to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and become something better."
Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory in February, while Wilson is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl following the 2013 season.