FACT CHECK: Did LeBron James Wear A “Same Crime” Protest T-Shirt?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 55,000 times purportedly shows LeBron James wearing a “Same Crime” t-shirt that attempts to express the disparities in punishment among different races and police officers.

“The shirt LeBron James got on is very deep,” reads the caption. “I hope you all understand because it’s very real.”

Verdict: False

James did not wear a shirt bearing this design. It was superimposed onto a 2014 image of James wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt.

Fact Check:

James, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, has been active in promoting social justice issues in recent years. For instance, he expressed public support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. (RELATED: Image Claims To Show Former NFL Players Joe Namath And Al Woodall Kneeling During The National Anthem)

The viral image, which has been shared more than 55,000 times, depicts James wearing a “Same Crime” t-shirt that attempts to express the disparities in punishment among different races and police officers. However, it has been photoshopped.

A reverse image search revealed that the original image, which has been flipped and cropped, actually shows James wearing a t-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe.” Getty photographer Al Bello took the picture before a 2014 Cleveland Cavaliers game against the Brooklyn Nets, according to the caption. (He played for the Cavaliers at the time.)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an "I Can't Breathe" shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

In 2014, James made national headlines for donning the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in honor of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York police officer. If James had worn the “Same Crime” t-shirt, it would also have been picked up by the media, yet no news outlets have reported on it.

This isn’t the first time James’ attire has been photoshopped to promote social justice issues on social media. PolitiFact, a fact-checking website, debunked a doctored image of James wearing a t-shirt about racial inequality in October 2017.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter

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