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‘Our city is hurting.’ Memphis Grizzlies head coach leads NBA tributes to Tyre Nichols

<i>Kerem Yücel/AP</i><br/>Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies fans pay tribute to Tyre Nichols.
Kerem Yücel/AP
Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies fans pay tribute to Tyre Nichols.

By Jacob Lev and Issy Ronald, CNN

The head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies joined other members of the NBA community Friday night in acknowledging the “senseless loss” of Tyre Nichols, saying the Black man’s death following an encounter with Memphis police has hit his team particularly hard.

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told the Bally Sports Southeast broadcast that he “cried” watching an interview with Nichols’ family — including his mother, RowVaughn Wells — and that he did not have “enough time in the day to share what’s on my heart and my mind right now.”

The coach’s comments came on the same night the city of Memphis released body camera and surveillance video of the January 7 traffic stop and beating that prosecutors say led to the death of Nichols from his injuries. Five Memphis police officers, who also are Black and have been fired, were charged with murder.

“Our team understands that our city is hurting,” Jenkins said. “The Nichols and Wells family is hurting right now. The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols really hit us hard and it’s been tough being on the road, not being home. I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now.

“I want to continue to encourage people to put their arms around each other. Put their arms around the Nichols family, the Wells family. To remember a beautiful life in Tyre Nichols, who I did not know but I’m learning about and the impact he made in so many people’s lives, but to encourage people to hear from the family to understand what they are going through.”

A moment of silence to honor Nichols was held before the tipoff of Memphis’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in Minneapolis — where George Floyd was murdered by police in May 2020.

The Timberwolves, alongside their WNBA counterparts the Minnesota Lynx, released a statement saying that they “are deeply saddened by the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols.”

“We extend our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies to Tyre’s family, friends, loved ones, the Memphis community and communities across the country during this difficult time,” it added.

After the video’s release the NBA tweeted on Friday night, “The images of Tyre Nichols’ life needlessly cut short are horrifying.”

“While there have been steps toward accountability in this instance, the NBA family remains committed to partnering with advocates, policymakers and law enforcement to work toward solutions to the issues we continue to face. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr. Nichols, the entire Memphis community and those who are affected by these tragic images and loss.”

Several other NBA teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, also tweeted statements about Nichols’ death.

“We grieve with Tyre Nichols’ loved ones and offer them our deepest sympathies as they grapple with the pain of his heinous and brutal murder,” the Cavaliers said.

“Our hearts also go out to the city of Memphis. As they continue their investigations into the events that led to Tyre’s tragic and untimely death, we’re encouraged by the swift response by Police Chief Cerelyn Davis. We join their city officials and Tyre’s family in calling for peace and offer them our support on their road to healing.”

The five officers were fired after the encounter, and Davis later said the video shows a “disregard for life, duty of care that we’re all sworn to.”

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