Tennis pro James Blake made headlines in 2015 when he was the victim of police brutality in NYC. “Extra’s” Billy Bush spoke with the star, who opened up about what happened back then and shared his heartbreak over George Floyd’s death.
Floyd’s death during an arrest has sparked outrage around the world. Blake said, “I’ve been on such a roller-coaster since this George Floyd tragedy, as has most of America.”
Five years ago, the tennis pro was stopped by the NYPD and tackled by an officer as he waited outside his NYC hotel ahead of the U.S. Open. Blake was handcuffed and arrested after being mistaken for a suspect in a credit card scheme. “I can only imagine if I had fought back,” he said.
Much like the Floyd incident, Blake’s encounter was caught on tape. “Thank goodness there is a video… I don’t think people would have believed me if they hadn’t.”
He said the emotional trauma is what sticks with him. “The fact that could happen when I was legitimately just standing outside and waiting for a car to take me to the Open… I think often about how lucky I was to get out of it with minimal physical damage.”
Sharing how he felt seeing the George Floyd tape, he said, “Immediate sadness. It’s a tragedy. This should not still be happening. This should never have happened — shouldn’t happen today or in decades past. But so sad for the family, and that night I was really sad for the country… When I saw the next day, the protests, I was so amazingly encouraged by the fact that America still cares. We’re not numb. We’re not desensitized to this.”
Billy said that when you break it down, we’re talking about the pigment of one’s skin. James agreed, adding, “Underneath the skin, you can’t tell the difference, but people have seemed to have these ideas for so long that there’s a ‘superior’ and ‘inferior,’ and it’s just nonsense.”