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Jamaica's 1st alpine skier gears up to compete in 2022 Winter Olympics

ABC News Live

(NEW YORK) -- British-born Benjamin Alexander had never put on a pair of skis until the age of 32. Only six years later, and he's now going for gold next month in Beijing as Jamaica's first Olympic alpine skier.

It didn't come easily, he said.

"I hit the ground like 20 plus times on my first time skiing. I absolutely was not a natural," Alexander told ABC News Live Prime on Tuesday. "But I was tenacious, and I had grit and determination. I really wanted to get good enough to ski with my friends. And so I just kept trying, and little by little, one step at a time, I got better and better."

Alexander said he was inspired by the legendary 1988 Jamaican bobsled team, which marked the first time the Caribbean nation had ever competed in the Winter Olympics. He said former Olympian Dudley Stokes, who was the pilot of the 1988 team, became a personal mentor of his.

"It's just incredible to have someone who basically wrote the book 'I'm Doing Outlandish Things for a Caribbean Nation in the Winter Games' ... just giving me advice along the way," he said.

For the past two and a half years, Alexander said he's been training as a full-time athlete in thanks to sport sponsorships. He said that despite some setbacks, such as mountain closures due to the pandemic, he's ready to compete.

"I've been planning meticulously to get to this point, and sometimes when you actually get to the place you've been looking at for so long, it feels weird to have arrived, so surreal is the one word I've been using," he said.

Alexander said his identity as a mixed-race skier is what motivated him to represent Jamaica instead of the U.K.

"You always represent the minority of any group you're in, at any given time. That can change, second by second, room by room. So if I'm with my white friends, I'm the Black guy, and with my Black friends, I'm the white guy," Alexander said. "As a skier, in the predominantly white sport of skiing, I was always the Black representative."

Along with representation, Alexander said he also wants his story to prove that it's never too late to start something new.

"You think something has passed you by, that you should have started it when you were younger ... I call you on that," he said. "You can do that thing that you thought was impossible. At least give it a try."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rob Gronkowski reflects on an "incredible" season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Rob Gronkowski says it's "unfortunate" the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't make this year's Super Bowl, losing 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional playoff, but he tells ABC Audio he's not dwelling on it.

"It was a good season.  There's no doubt about it. It's unfortunate it didn't end the way that we wanted it to end, obviously," the tight end stressed, noting the team's 13 wins "was the most wins in the franchise history in a single season, which is pretty incredible."

Gronk also had an incredible season because he's close to breaking 100 receiving touchdowns in regular season play.  He currently has 92.  When asked about that upcoming milestone, he cryptically replied, "That's another season away -- I would have to play another year, no doubt about that, to get over 100."  Gronk cheekily noted that he technically did hit that mark "if you include playoffs."  

Ninety of those receiving passes were thrown by Tom Brady, but Gronk says "it took a while" to build the chemistry fans see on the field.

Gronk detailed the hard work he put in during his rookie year with the Patriots to become the player Brady needed him to be. "We would throw 10 more routes after practice to get that connection, build it up every single week, and it was kind of struggling at first. I didn't really know the plays, didn't know my routes that well, didn't know how Tom wanted me to run them... Then, finally, it just clicked."

The duo have played in six Super Bowls together, winning four, the last being on their home turf in 2021.  Will the two try again for a fifth Super Bowl win?  On Monday, Gronk flirted with the thought of "year 12" on Twitter, but only time will tell....

As for who Gronk thinks will play in this year's Super Bowl, he says, "It will be the 49ers versus the Kansas City Chiefs," noting the latter team's "offense is red hot."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/25/22

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 117, New Orleans 107
Toronto 125, Charlotte 113
Denver 110, Detroit 105
Boston 128, Sacramento 75
LA Clippers 116, Washington 115
LA Lakers 106, Brooklyn 96
San Antonio 134, Houston 104
Golden State 130, Dallas 92
Minnesota 109, Portland 107

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Pittsburgh 6, Arizona 3
Ottawa 5, Buffalo 0
Dallas 5, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Vegas 3 (OT)
NY Islanders 4, Philadelphia 3
Florida 5, Winnipeg 3
Edmonton 3, Vancouver 2 (OT)
Nashville 4, Seattle 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Auburn 55, Missouri 54
Baylor 74, Kansas St. 49
Duke 71, Clemson 69
Illinois 56, Michigan St. 55
Kentucky 82, Mississippi St. 74
Villanova 67, DePaul 43
UConn 96, Georgetown 73
UCLA 75, Arizona 59
Wisconsin at Nebraska (Postponed)

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Australian Open organizers reverse ban on T-shirts supporting Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai

Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- After immense international backlash, Tennis Australia has reversed course on its ban of spectators donning T-shirts in support of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai at the Australian Open.

Peng, who was formerly ranked No. 1 globally in women's doubles, has retreated from the public eye and social media after accusing a retired top Chinese Communist Party official of sexual assault last November. The saga has garnered international backlash over China's handling of sexual assault claims, and attempts by Chinese state-run media to assuage international concern for Peng's safety have only prompted further global skepticism about the case.

A Tennis Australia spokesperson confirmed the ban reversal to ABC News on Tuesday, saying the organization would take a "common sense approach" to enforcing its policy against political materials as long as there are no disruptions to the event. The apparent U-Turn came after videos on social media showed security and police confronting activists wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "Where is Peng Shuai."

Tennis great Martina Navratilova blasted the initial ban, calling it "just pathetic" on Twitter. After hearing of the reversal, Navratilova lauded Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley and the tournament organizers for "doing the right thing here!"

Tiley confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that T-shirts supporting Peng will be permitted, but banners are still barred due to safety concerns.

"What we’ve said is that if anyone comes on site with an intent to disrupt and use the Australian Open as a platform for themselves and really disrupts the comfort and the safety of our fans, then they’re not welcome," Tiley told the local newspaper. "However, if someone wants to wear a T-shirt and make a statement about Peng Shuai, that’s fine."

Tiley continued: "But what’s not fine is if that someone brings in a big banner and it’s got big poles attached to it and it’s used as something [which is dangerous], it really takes away from the comfort and safety of the fans. We’ll stick to those terms and conditions."

International tennis superstars including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have lent their voices to the growing chorus of concerns for Peng, with both athletes sharing posts about the saga on Twitter using the hashtag #whereispengshuai.

Peng re-emerged at a public event in the run-up to the Beijing 2022 Olympics in mid-December, and the International Olympic Committee released a photo last month of her participating in a video call with IOC head Thomas Bach. Correspondence purportedly from Peng that backtracks her sexual assault claim have also been published by Chinese state-run media outlets.

Despite the purported evidence that she is safe, the global Women's Tennis Association announced last month that it was suspending all WTA tournaments in China, including in Hong Kong.

"Chinese officials have been provided the opportunity to cease this censorship, verifiably prove that Peng is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and investigate the allegation of sexual assault in a full, fair and transparent manner," WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a lengthy statement on Dec. 1 announcing the suspension. "Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way. While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation."

Simon said the WTA has repeated its calls for a full and transparent investigation, without censorship, into Peng's accusation. He also called on other international leaders to "speak out so justice can be done for Peng, and all women, no matter the financial ramifications."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/24/22

iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Cleveland 95, New York 93
Chicago 111, Oklahoma City 110
New Orleans 117, Indiana 113
Phoenix 115, Utah 109

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Dallas 3, Philadelphia 1
Anaheim 5, Boston 3
Vegas 1, Washington 0
NY Rangers 3, Los Angeles 2 (SO)
Minnesota 8, Montreal 2
Calgary 7, St. Louis 1
Colorado 2, Chicago 0

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Kansas 94, Texas Tech 91
Southern Cal 78, Arizona St. 56

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/23/22

iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:
 
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
New York 110, L.A. Clippers 102
Boston 116, Washington 87
Portland 114, Toronto 105
Orlando 114, Chicago 95
Miami 113, LA Lakers 107
Philadelphia 115, San Antonio 109
Atlanta 113, Charlotte 91
Dallas 104, Memphis 91
Minnesota 136, Brooklyn 125
Denver 117, Detroit 111
Golden State 94, Utah 92

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Pittsburgh 3, Winnipeg 2 (SO)
Ottawa 2, Columbus 1
Los Angeles 3, New Jersey 2
Seattle 5, Florida 3
St. Louis 3, Vancouver 1

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
LA Rams 30, Tampa Bay 27
Kansas City 42, Buffalo 36 (OT)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Arizona 96, California 71
Purdue 80, Northwestern 60
Marquette 75, Xavier 64
Providence 69, Butler 62

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/20/22

iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
New Orleans 102, New York 91
Final Phoenix 109, Dallas 101
Indiana 121, Golden State 117 (OT)

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 2 Philadelphia 1
Boston 4, Washington 3
Dallas 5, Buffalo 4
Pittsburgh 6, Ottawa 4
Nashville 5, Winnipeg 2
Florida 6, Edmonton 0
Colorado 4, Los Angeles 1
Seattle 3, San Jose 2
Vegas 4 Montreal 3 (OT)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Gonzaga 78, San Francisco 62
Arizona 85, Stanford 57
Indiana 68, Purdue 65
Southern Cal 61, Colorado 58
Providence 83, Georgetown 75
UConn 75, Butler 56
UCLA 63, Utah 58
Gonzaga at Pacific (Postponed)

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Shaun White says his final Olympic run in Beijing has 'last dance glow to it'

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As Shaun White gears up to go for his fourth and final gold in Beijing, the Olympic halfpipe snowboarder said his training has become "more calculated" and that he's got "some new moves" to debut in February.

"I'm so honored to make the team; it is just incredible and I get to be an Olympian again. Get to run out of the tunnel with Team USA, it's just so exciting," White told Good Morning America on Thursday. "To be atop a sport like this for this long, I feel so honored to be doing that. And it's so wild because when I look around, everybody in the area are all people I used to compete with, you know, they're coaches now."

Ahead of the February opening ceremonies, White recently announced this will be his final Olympics, which he confirmed on GMA, saying, "I've got this last dance sort of glow to it."

"You know, you look for those little signs and I was having a little knee injury here, a little ankle injury there, just these little things. And I remember my back hurting one day and my buddies were like, 'what happened? And I was like, 'Nothing, it just hurts," he laughed.

The winter Games will look different for all the athletes this year as the International Olympic Committee takes precautions to safely allow competition, without fans.

"I'll never forget winning and sliding down and seeing my whole family and they're just crying and tears of joy -- the whole crowd and that feeling you get, so it's going to be different. But honestly, I salute them for putting this on in such a challenging time," White said. "We've been trying to keep in our little bubble, so select friends and family, a physical therapist I have with me ... Everybody's testing and doing the best they can and I think that's all you can really do."

Since notching his first Olympic gold in 2006 when he was 19, White said he prepares at a different pace now.

"I had longer hair back then, so it's a little easier routine these days," he joked. "I think every single time I go to the Olympics, it's just a different process."

"I always think, 'What got me to this point in my career won't necessarily take me the rest of the way.' So not only have I been focusing a lot on my physical health, but just like the mental health of it all," White, 35, said. "Staying positive and staying motivated."

The training has become "more calculated practice sessions," and he explained that "it's more like a power window than I used to be up there all day long -- I don't have that much energy as I used to. I'm not an old guy by any means -- but at the last competition, one of my competitors was like 15, I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' So I'm definitely like pacing it out a bit more and take a lot more time to recover."

At his last appearance in PyeongChang, White stunned fans and judges with back-to-back 1440s and ended the run with a frontside double cork 1260 to grab gold.

"There's talk of triple corks now, these triple flips that are happening. A lot of the Japanese riders have been attempting those. There's talks of doing a 16, which is 180 [degrees] past the 1440. But it's gonna be incredible. I don't want to give anything away, but working on some new moves and I'm hoping that everything really peaks once I get to the competition."

Outside of the Olympics, White started a snowboarding and activewear company with his brother called Whitespace.

"It's so much fun. You know, all my experience over the course of my career -- I get to put that into a new product and a new brand and all my focus and attention and it's been such a rewarding thing to work on with family," he said. "I was 7 when I first got a snowboard from Jake Burton, who unfortunately passed away recently, but, you know, he gave me that start and I keep thinking -- 'Wow, if I could be that for the next generation,' some young boy or girl or whoever is starting up and has that spark and excitement for the sport and I could be there to support it with my wisdom and experiences."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/19/22

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 123, Orlando 110
Brooklyn 119, Washington 118
Charlotte 111, Boston 102
Atlanta 134, Minnesota 122
Chicago 117, Cleveland 104
Milwaukee 126, Memphis 114
San Antonio 118, Oklahoma City 96
Final Dallas 102 Toronto 98
Houston 116, Utah 111
Detroit 133, Sacramento 131
Denver 130, LA Clippers 128 (OT)
Indiana 111, LA Lakers 104
Miami 104, Portland 92

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Arizona 4, New Jersey 1
NY Rangers 6, Toronto 3
Colorado 2, Anaheim 0

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Auburn 83, Georgia 60
Marquette 57, Villanova 54
Kentucky 64, Texas A&M 58
Alabama 70, LSU 67
Xavier 68, DePaul 67

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Alabama football coach Nick Saban urges Manchin to pass voting rights bill but punts on filibuster change

Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and NBA icon Jerry West joined three fellow sports personalities native to West Virginia to pen a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., urging him to help push voting rights legislation in the Senate without asking him to allow a rule change that would be necessary to ensure the bill's passage.

On Tuesday evening, Manchin pointed out on C-SPAN that the version of the letter made public this week was missing a key footnote in which Saban indicates his objection to eliminating the filibuster while the other signatories take no position on it.

"Coach Saban is not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate. He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we must have in our Democracy. The others signing this letter take no position on this aspect of Senate policies," the version shared by Manchin reads.

Manchin, like Saban, has also said he supports Democrats' voting rights legislation but has long stated his opposition to changing the Senate filibuster rule.

Saban, one of the best-known coaches in American sports, originally hails from West Virginia and maintains a friendship with the West Virginia senator dating back to the 1950s. West, former NFL players Oliver Luck and Darryl Talley, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue also signed the letter.

Their letter focuses on equal election access for all Americans and the importance of transparency and impartiality in elections administration. A House-passed voting rights bill that combines both the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act addresses these issues with provisions that boost vote by mail and aim to prevent new laws restricting voting rights from being enacted in the future.

"We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections," the letter, dated Jan. 13, reads.

The letter comes amid an ongoing, high-stakes voting rights battle in the Senate, with the measure looking destined to be blocked by a Republican filibuster since Democrats do not have the support of their entire slim majority to pass a rules change. With Manchin and fellow Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., reaffirming their opposition to altering the filibuster rule, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's attempt to create a carveout for voting rights is poised to fail when it is voted on Wednesday evening.

Manchin told reporters Wednesday morning he would be speaking on the Senate floor later in the day to outline where he stands. But he has been adamant in his resistance even calls to get rid of the filibuster to protect voting rights have grown louder.

The latest push for federal voting rights legislation comes after 19 states passed laws restricting voting rights in 2021 following the 2020 election, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Willie O'Ree, 1st Black NHL player, reflects on his time in the league

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

(BOSTON) -- The Boston Bruins retired the jersey of Willie O’Ree, the first Black NHL player, on Tuesday night -- 64 years to the day of his professional hockey debut.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 and currently in line to be the first hockey player to receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the ceremony, which was held at TD Garden, marked another historic moment for O'Ree's ever-growing, decades-long legacy.

An avid ice hockey player from the age of 5, O’Ree knew he’d wanted to play professional hockey since he was 14 years old.

"I made two goals for myself: to play professional hockey and hopefully one day to play in the National Hockey League," he said in an interview for ABC News Live on Monday.

He would go on to achieve both.

The Canada native committed himself to the sport, leaving home at 17 years old to play in a junior league.

O'Ree continued to improve his game, but at 20 years old, his dreams of joining the NHL were jeopardized when a puck struck him in the face while playing for the Kitchener Canucks, a junior ice hockey team. The impact shattered his retina, causing him to lose vision in his right eye. He was told that the injury would stop him from playing ever again.

Despite the prognosis, O'Ree said he was determined to continue practicing, so he adapted. As a left-wing player, he would have to turn his head completely to the right to see the puck.

"Forget about what you can't see, and concentrate on what you can see," he said he told himself at the time.

Just two years later, he made history when he became the first Black NHL player ever in 1958 at 22 years old. He never told the team about his loss of vision. It would have made him ineligible to play if the league knew.

O’Ree didn't know the impact he was making at the time, he said.

"I didn’t realize I broke the color barrier until I read it in the paper the next morning," he said, adding, "I was just so excited that I got the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League and with the Boston Bruins."

If they can’t accept you for the individual that you are, then that’s their problem
But his time with the Bruins was not without adversity.

Although his Bruins teammates accepted him, as the first and only Black player in the league during the 1950s and 1960s, O'Ree said he was met with racism from fans and opposing players. He said he didn't allow the bigotry to deter him.

"I knew if I fought every time somebody called me a name that I'd be in the penalty box all the time," O'Ree said. "So it was hard. It was hard at the beginning. But later on, I did gain the respect of not only the fans in the stands, but the players on the opposition."

O’Ree credits his older brother Richard with helping him develop the confidence he needed to succeed in a league that was not welcoming to people like him.

"He knew the type of individual I was, and you know, the racism and prejudice and bigotry," O'Ree said to media after the ceremony. "He knew I could handle that, and he just said, 'Forget about what other people think about you. If they can’t accept you for the individual that you are, then that’s their problem.'"

He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1961, the same team he played against in his NHL debut, and then continued on to play in minor leagues before retiring in 1979.

Over half a century later, Black hockey players still face prejudice from spectators, teammates, and coaches.

O’Ree, now 86, has worked as the NHL’s director of youth development and an ambassador for NHL Diversity for 24 years.

His lifelong dedication to dismantling barriers for athletes of color continues to play a large role in the NHL’s efforts to address the lack of diversity in the league.

The NHL has an initiative called Hockey is For Everyone, which is focused on creating a more inclusive environment for players and fans of all backgrounds through programming that includes the Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend.

"Watching these boys and girls experience everything hockey has to offer is incredible," he said. "More than 130,000 boys and girls have gone through the programs so far. I look forward to supporting the next generation of young hockey players."

His passion for ice hockey, helping young athletes set goals and providing a space for opportunity and success have influenced the sport and many who love it over the years.

"There are more Black girls and Black boys and players of color playing hockey today than ever before," O'Ree said. "So we're going, we're going in the right direction."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/18/22

iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Minnesota 112, New York 110
Golden State 102, Detroit 86

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Buffalo 3, Ottawa 1
Washington 4, Winnipeg 3 (OT)
Carolina 7, Boston 1
NY Islanders 4 Philadelphia 3 (SO)
Vancouver 3, Nashville 1
Final Montreal 5, Dallas 3
Calgary 5, Florida 1
Tampa Bay 6, Los Angeles 4
Columbus at NY Islanders 7
Detroit at Philadelphia (Postponed)
Chicago at Edmonton (Postponed)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Baylor 77, West Virginia 68
Florida St. 79, Duke 78
Kansas 67, Oklahoma 64
Wisconsin 82, Northwestern 76
Houston 74, South Florida 55
Texas Tech 72, Iowa St. 60
Ohio St. 83, IUPUI 37
Loyola Chicago 77, Evansville 48
Kansas St. 66, Texas 65
Tennessee 68, Vanderbilt 60
UConn 76, Butler 59
Providence at Seton Hall (Postponed)

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


NBA Social Justice Coalition vows to fight for voting rights

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As the fight for voting rights stalls in Congress, the NBA Social Justice Coalition continues its call for lawmakers to act urgently to protect the right to vote.

The NBA Social Justice Coalition was formed in 2020, after the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake. The group, which includes players, owners and staffers, has advocated for policy changes regarding voting rights, criminal justice, policing and justice reform, by reaching out to lawmakers in targeted efforts in Congress and state and local legislatures.

Over the past two years, the group has been active across the country and in Washington, D.C.

Voting rights were at the forefront for the NBA Social Justice Coalition in 2020. The NBA opened up 23 league facilities to help increase voting participation by using them as polling locations and voter registration locations.

In 2021, NBA all-star forward Karl Anthony Towns, from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Caron Butler, an assistant coach of the Miami Heat, held a virtual roundtable with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., on the topic of policing reform.

Last year, the group publicly endorsed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and pushed for the passage of the EQUAL Act, a bill that seeks to eliminate the federal differences in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine.

Privately, the group has also held several bipartisan meetings with lawmakers.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers told ABC News, fighting for equal rights "has been part of my life throughout my life."

Born and raised in Chicago, Rivers, 60, grew up going to Operation Breadbasket, a 1960s era program that fought for jobs and services on behalf of the Black community.

Rivers was only three years old when the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 and stressed that Americans should not normalize the fight for voting rights.

"You should be able to vote and you should be fighting for everyone to be able to do it. And the more people you can get engaged in the fight to vote, which shouldn't be a fight anymore," he said.

The coach added, "We can't normalize it that for a long period of our history, and not just Black Americans, women, minorities, were kept out of the right the vote, which is literally the single most important thing about democracy being able to vote, and it's been attacked throughout my lifetime."

In August, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed in the House of Representatives. However, in the months since, the bill has stalled due to partisan gridlock.

Rivers told ABC News, "this shouldn't be controversial ... This has nothing to do with color. This has to do with equal rights."

"It's been made hard for targeted groups throughout my lifetime to vote, and I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican, the one thing that everybody should be fighting for is not making it harder to vote, but making it easier for everyone to vote," Rivers said

When asked what he would say to lawmakers today on the issue of voting rights, he said he'd simply ask them to protect his right to vote.

"Can you protect my right to vote? Don't make it harder for me, or certain groups make it easier for all groups. Protect our rights, and we love using the Constitution. That is constitutional," he said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 1/17/22

iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Boston 104, New Orleans 92
Charlotte 97, New York 87
Washington 117, Philadelphia 98
Cleveland 114, Brooklyn 107
Memphis 119, Chicago 106
LA Clippers 139, Indiana 133
Atlanta 121, Milwaukee 114
Portland 98, Orlando 88Miami 104, Toronto 99
Phoenix 121, San Antonio 107
Dallas 104, Oklahoma City 102
LA Lakers 101, Utah 95

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Detroit 3, Buffalo 2 (OT)
Colorado 4, Minnesota 3 (SO)
Arizona 5, Montreal 2
San Jose 6, Los Angeles 2
Seattle 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
NY Islanders 4, Philadelphia 1
St. Louis 5, Nashville 3
Pittsburgh 5, Vegas 3
New Jersey at Toronto (Postponed)

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
LA Rams 34, Arizona 11

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Purdue 96, Illinois 88

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open

iStock/Pornpak Khunatorn

(PARIS) -- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could be barred from competing in the French Open following the French Parliament’s adoption of a vaccine pass on Sunday.

Professional athletes, regardless of nationality, will now have to show their credentials and present a vaccine pass to access sports venues, France’s Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu told reporters on Monday.

Maracineanu had told French radio station France Info differently earlier this month, saying that athletes like Djokovic could benefit from exemptions "because the protocol, the health bubble of these major sporting events will allow it."

However, she said on Monday that the recent law to curb the spread of the new coronavirus passed by the French Parliament had changed the situation.

French lawmakers passed a controversial piece of legislation on Sunday that will require people 16 years and older to have a vaccine certificate to enter public places such as restaurants, cafés, bars and cinemas. The regulation will apply to sports venues as well, Maracineanu announced, saying she hoped for the French sports sector to become an "ambassador(s) of these measures on the international level."

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, spent nearly a week in visa limbo in Australia, which has strict COVID-19 and vaccine rules for those entering the country. After a brief legal challenge, a judge ruled Djokovic had to leave the country.

The new vaccine pass regulation, which has not yet been promulgated, should come into force in the coming days.

Under these new regulations, athletes without a valid vaccine pass would not be allowed to compete French Open, which will be held in May in Paris.

A prior COVID-19 infection could make someone eligible for a vaccine pass, but only under strict conditions that need to be specified in a decree that will accompany the law, a spokesperson at the French Sports Ministry told ABC News.

The details of the decree should be announced at the end of the week and will reveal how long after a positive test that one's infection can act as a vaccine pass under the new regulation.

 

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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