LeBron James’ Name Invoked By Young Thug’s Defense In YSL RICO Trial As Lawyers Claim Gang Culture Is Just Popular Culture

What do LeBron James and Snoop Dogg have in common, minus immense popularity?

Gang signs. No really.

The unlikely pairing of the athlete and entertainer took over Monday’s deliberations for Georgia vs. Jeffrey Williams, aka Young Thug, and his codefendant’s YSL RICO trial. The state of Georgia alleges that Williams is an active gang member and leader of a Blood gang set.

LeBron James’ name is getting dragged into the Young Thug trial as prosecutors and the defense team continue to try and decipher gang code and culture. (Getty Images)

The case is the latest to test the boundaries of freedom of speech as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, and her team use everything from lyrics to physical gestures as examples of his criminal activity in the Atlanta-area district.

So when attempting to prove Jeffrey Williams is an actual criminal, the casual actions of his performer alter ego, Young Thug, have been dissected by the prosecution. One glaring theme is his casual intertwining of gang culture into his music and deciding if they are indeed separable from his real life or his admitting his criminal ties over beats.

To that end, his attorneys are seeking to showcase how ubiquitous street culture and, by proxy, gang culture is pervasive within sports and commercial rap music.

LeBron James’ name came up when a TikTok video featured him going through his signature round of handshakes with his Lakers teammates in the tunnel before a game. A defense attorney showed the clip to alleged YSL gang leader Trontavious Stephens, asking him if he recognized any of the hand gestures James did.

Stephens answered ‘yes,’ he referenced a nose-wiping gesture law enforcement says is a Blood sign for “Slime.”

“Did you hear what Mr. James said as he wiped his nose?” the defense asked Stephens.

His answer, “slime,” was the hope of the defense to prove that if one of the most recognizable people on the planet, LeBron James, used it as a form of endearment with his teammates and not a gang set, then the symbol is not solely associated with gang affiliation as the prosecution suggests.

Additionally, during Dr. Dre’s star-studded Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show performance in 2022, which featured Snoop Dogg, he wore a blue bandana with Los Angeles Rams yellow trim, which can convey an affiliation with the California-based Crips gang. He also did the Crip Walk during the performance, which is clearly labeled as a gang-created dance.

Although Snoop Dogg is also an admitted non-active Crip member, he has also popularized Crip culture and made its nuances part of his entertainment spectrum. You can also find white teenagers all over the globe imitating those same gestures and incorporating it — in their own way — into their everyday interaction.

As the trial continues, there is no telling whether the jury is leaning toward Young Thug’s explanation, and proceedings — now in their 13th month — could continue for many more weeks. However, one thing is sure: nothing is off limits from the hardwood to the Super Bowl halftime show in the attempt to get Jeffrey Williams, aka Young Thug, acquitted.

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