Raptors’ Masai Ujiri speaks up about continuing fight for social justice

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri speaks to media. (Frank Gunn/CP)

In the days since Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland officially dropped his federal lawsuit against him, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has made it clear his mission to push for change is only just beginning.

In the moments following the 2019 NBA Finals, as he attempted to get to the court to celebrate the Raptors’ first-ever championship, Ujiri was shoved by Strickland while the executive attempted to reach for his team credential to present it. A lawsuit filed by Strickland saw the matter thrust back into the spotlight and eventually led to bodycam footage being made public and clearly showing the officer as the aggressor.

During a Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts Wednesday morning, Ujiri spoke about that night’s events from his perspective, including the confusion of the moment amid the chaos and how it felt to finally see the footage and know that his own recollection was ultimately vindicated.

“I couldn’t sleep for three or four days in the bubble,” Ujiri told Roberts. “Seeing that tape, yes you are vindicated, you feel that yes, this is the right story. People said ‘you punched a policeman, you hit his jaw, you broke his jaw,’ all kinds of things. And you begin to doubt yourself. As time goes on, you begin to actually wonder what really happened.”

Now, forging ahead after also dropping his own countersuit against Strickland, Ujiri has made clear his mission going forward extends far beyond his own experience.

“This happened to me — there’s worse that have happened to other people,” he said. “I lost a moment. People have lost their lives.”

Last week, Ujiri released a powerful statement and video in which he reflected on his own experience.

In his conversation with Roberts, Ujiri reiterated his mission moving forward and how his platform will be dedicated to those without the resources his own job title allowed him.

“They’re wrongly accused, there’s no body cams, nobody sees what happens, and they are incarcerated or they are accused or they are charged,” he said. “We have to fight for them.”

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