-- LeBron James has spoken out after police said a “racially motivated slur” was spray-painted on a front gate of the Cleveland Cavaliers star's West Los Angeles home.
Los Angeles Police Department captain Patricia Sandoval confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday night that the LAPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Sandoval said officers "did take a report, and titled it 'Hate crime vandalism." She said titling the report as such is "very important due to the fact that it was a racial slur that was painted on his gate, and the Department takes hate crimes extremely seriously."
The vandalism was reported to police Wednesday morning, one day before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
Property management removed the graffiti before officers arrived and investigators are reviewing security footage, police initially said.
Sandoval told ABC News, "It is very alarming to us, the police department, that a hate crime such as this, that occurred, would happen at Mr. LeBron James' residence in the West L.A. Division. It's very concerting to anyone in any neighborhood but particularly someone of his stature."
James, who was not at home, told reporters today, "As I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest events we have in sports, race and what's going on comes again."
"On my behalf and my family's behalf, I look at it like this: if this is going to shed a light and continue the conversation ... then I'm OK with it," James said. "My family is safe ... and that's the most important. Just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. Hate in America for African-Americans is living every day, even though it's concealed most of the time."
"And I think back to Emmett Till's mom, actually," James said of the African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in the 1950s. "One of the things I thought of, one of the reasons she had an open casket, was because she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime, being black in America."
"No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough," he said. "We got a long way to go, for us as a society, and for us as African-Americans, until we feel equal in America."