We highlighted the realest shirt in college football last week, when four-star recruit Tyreke Smith, donned a shirt at during a recruiting visit at Ohio State emblazoned with the message "I hope I don't get killed for being Black today" that his brother created.
Needless to say, that t-shirt set it off.
⭕️state was great!!!! 💯
Well neither Smith nor his shirt are one-hit wonders, so they will both be making an appearance at Nike's "The Opening", the apparel leader's elite football camp, now in its eighth year, held at its expansive Beaverton, Oregon campus. Smith wanted to make a statement with something other than his football skills, and he spoke with SB Nation about the purpose behind the shirt and his wearing it.
People automatically assume when they see the shirt that it’s just about cops killing blacks, that it’s just a racist shirt, and I’m kinda just preaching, like, it’s not that. The majority of the killings are black-on-black crime, so it’s all crime on blacks. I just wanted to get that across to people.
Like I said, I knew people weren’t gonna like the shirt. I knew some people were gonna feel different about it. But all I’m just asking to do is just read what we’re trying to get across, and then maybe they’ll have a different mindset about it.
As you could imagine, Tyreke has been swarmed by both the press and the public, with the reactions ranging from inquisitive to supportive to critical. But he was well prepared for the response he would be facing the second he wore the shirt, some of which could be attributed to the fact that his grandfather was a Black Panther and he taught him lessons which both he and his brother, Malik, took to heart.
“[My grandfather’s] just always been telling me that, being African-American, you’re always gonna have to do the extra stuff, the extra mile,” Tyreke said in his interview with SB Nation. “You’re always gonna have a target on your back. We weren’t always equals, stuff like that. Some people think we’re still not. Some people think they’re still above us."
He’d just be saying be mindful, keep your head up. Keep your head on a swivel. Anything can happen at any time.
While Tyreke has not committed to a school as of yet, it will be interesting to see just how his apparel activist messaging affects his recruiting process and his experience at the school he chooses. But based upon his strong family genes, intelligence and awareness of self, Tyreke will be just fine. Her's another manifestation of the fact that athlete activism is alive and well, and that participation knows no age.