INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- With the country reeling from a mass shooting in Oregon, LeBron James focused on the death of a 5-month-old girl, Aavielle Wakefield, who was shot in the chest on Thursday during a drive-by shooting in Cleveland as another example of gun violence run amok.
Like seriously man!!!! A baby shot in the chest in Cleveland. It's been out of control but it's really OOC. Ya'll need to chill the F out.— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 1, 2015
James was asked about what prompted him to take to Twitter to bring light to Wakefield's story and speak out against the societal pitfalls behind her death after Cavs practice Friday.
"It's the quickest way to get my voice out there, first of all, social media. Obviously it's not the first time that it's happened, but it's been happening a little bit too much recently," James said. "I think it happened like in the last four weeks, four kids under the age of 5 or 6 years old have been shot and killed or very badly injured or whatever. It's just, there's no room for that."
Wakefield was the third child in the Cleveland area gunned down in a drive-by shooting since early September, according to Cleveland.com. Five-year-old Ramon Burnett and 3-year-old Major Howard also lost their lives.
James showed a similar social consciousness last season, commenting on the deaths of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, while also donning an "I can't breathe" T-shirt before playing a game in Brooklyn to show solidarity with supporters of Eric Garner, another African-American man who was killed during a confrontation with police.
While James' messages last season were mostly centered on peace, part of his words on Friday were aimed at public policy. Specifically, James called for greater gun control laws in the U.S.
"I know what I see. I know how I feel," James said. "Obviously you're not going to be able to take every gun out, I don't know how you can do that. There's so many around now, today. But if there's some stipulations behind it or some penalties, some big-time penalties or rules or regulations about carrying firearms, legal or illegal, people will second-guess themselves."
James said he did not see President Obama's gun control-themed speech following the tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday, when a lone gunman killed nine people and wounded nine others before dying in a gun battle with local police.
"There's no room for guns, first of all, but then for violence towards kids or anybody," James said. "But, having kids of your own, I see the news go across my phone and I'm sitting there in front of my three kids, so it automatically just hit me. Just getting my voice out there and letting a lot of people know, it's not just in Cleveland. If you seen my message I also hash-tagged '#TheNation' as well, so it's also the whole nation that goes through this as well. We all hurt from it."
He was then asked whether he would develop a program through his LeBron James Family Foundation to specifically address gun violence in the Northeast Ohio community.
"Maybe," James said. "I'm using my voice through social media and that's what I always do when something goes on that I feel like it's important. I will speak upon it.
"My foundation is doing some [good work]. We're kind of focused on something right now, don't want to veer off on that, obviously you guys know the education program we're going through right now. Part of the education program we're doing is keeping those kids off the street and keeping their situations that [are] maybe bad and turning them into good."
James explained that his foundation is focusing on preventative measures -- providing a positive influence to children and teaching them life skills to grow into successful adults -- rather than reactionary efforts after a tragedy has occurred.
"I think what we're doing is controlling some of the violence," James said. "Some of these kids might be in violent situations, violent areas or violent homes and we're trying to keep them away from that by having that program that I've set up through my foundation, through the University of Akron, through the Akron Public School system and so on and so on. I feel like if we can do our part, through my foundation and what we do, then maybe it can possibly bring the number of percentages [of at-risk youth] down from, I don't know, 20 percent to 15 to 10. Hopefully we'll continue to do that."