Doc Rivers Reveals Powerful Interaction With John Lewis Amid NBA Career


Jul 18, 2020

It was a sad day in the United States following the death of congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis Friday night.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers took the news particularly hard, recognizing the late Georgia politician before Los Angeles’ practice Saturday.

“Really sad day for our country,” an emotional Rivers said, via the team. “What’s amazing is when you think of right now, some of the stuff that John Lewis was fighting for, we’re still fighting for. Voter suppression right now is at an all-time high.

“It’s amazing how hard we have a group of people who are trying to get people not to vote. Latinos, Blacks and young people are the targets. That’s what they are trying to get not to vote. It’s amazing when you think about how long ago that was and yet we are still fighting that fight.”

Much of what Lewis fought for has resonated with Rivers throughout his life. The 58-year-old recalled a time he crossed paths with Lewis early in his NBA career, a moment he says he’ll never forget.

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“I’ll tell you a quick story,” Rivers said. “I was young, I was playing for the (Atlanta) Hawks, and I got to know Andy Young really well, and Andrew was running for governor, and I went on a campaign trip with John Lewis and Andy Young. Just think about that, I was a — I don’t know, 26 maybe, 27. I don’t know how old I was. And we flew to Albany, Georgia, of all places, and Andrew Young gave a speech at an all-white church, and he was fantastic. It was an absolutely amazing speech. The crowd was going crazy.

“We get on the plane, and we’re talking, and Andrew Young turns to me and said — he used to call me Young Doc. He says, ‘Young Doc, what did you think about the speech?’ and I jokingly said, ‘Well, Mr. Young, I thought the speech was great, but I don’t think you’re getting one vote from that church.’ And everybody started laughing. John Lewis piped in and says, ‘Well, we’re not trying to get all of them, we’re just trying to get one at a time, and eventually it will be all of them.’ I thought that was just one powerful statement.”

Lewis was 80-years-old when he died, following a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

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Thumbnail photo via Al Sermeno/USA TODAY Sports Images
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