MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ride of Tears, an organization that honors children lost to gun violence, gathered in front of the FedEx Forum after Ja Morant’s video of him holding up a gun went viral.
Ride of Tears says the children of Memphis deserve better, especially after recent gun violence in the city and Morant’s actions. They went to the FedEx Forum, demanding an apology from the superstar to the children.
“Put the guns down and we’re asking that this ballplayer, Morant, would just apologize to these kids,” said Kenny Lee, the vice president of Ride of Tears.
The Ride of Tears organization rides whenever a child is killed due to gun violence, but instead of riding members stood behind an empty coffin to send a message to Morant.
“I wish that Morant boy would talk to me, and I could tell him a few things,” said Stevie Moore, the president and founder of Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives. “You got to change your ways because if you don’t change your ways things will keep happening because that gun will turn around on you like it was turned around on my son.”
They say children look up to Morant and need to know gun violence is not the answer.
“It’s time for us to say, Ja, we forgive you,” said Towanna Murphy, a Memphis radio host. “We didn’t see anything wrong with it, but the world has seen something wrong with it. Kids are watching you. We’re watching you and you have to set an example on and off the court.”
“I’m a real big fan. Ja, we love you, baby. Come on and get it together. Put the gun down. Pick the ball up and pick the bible up,” said Taleena Johnson, a Memphis mother whose son was murdered.
Morant released a statement this week about that video saying, “I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me. This is a journey, and I recognize there is more work to do.”
This is the second time this year that a video of Morant with a gun has circulated online. “I got a second chance and I felt it only going to make it right and show you know who Ja is,” Morant said.
Wednesday night, a five-year-old boy was shot in Frayser. Memphis police say it was an accidental shooting. This is another reason organizers for the Ride of Tears hope their message will reach an NBA superstar who calls Memphis home.
“I just want to say one thing, Ja. Don’t get caught slipping and have to put your baby in these caskets or better yet don’t get yourself put in it,” Mary Trace, president of Ride of Tears said. “When you play games with a gun, this is what happens. You will ride your last ride.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week he was shocked by what he saw in the video and they’re now in the process of investigating it.