When it comes to the NHL, most players stick to sports. Tampa Bay Lightning winger J.T. Brown is one of the few exceptions, and as he told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan recently, he’s not going to stop after donating $1,500 toward the removal of a Confederate statue in Tampa.
"Stick to sports? I've heard it," Brown said. "I heard it last year. I've heard it now after this. I'm not afraid of backlash. Everybody has their opinion on what people should say and when they should say it. But if everybody stuck to what they're supposed to do, we wouldn't have made the strides we made to get to where we are."
One of roughly 30 black players in the NHL, Brown has been one of the few players willing to speak out on issues related to race. He called out John Tortorella in a tweet last year after the Team USA coach said he’d bench any player who refused to stand for the national anthem.
Wouldn't benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap's point of oppression? But hey ☕️ https://t.co/p6aUjXYlq4— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) September 7, 2016
Last week, Brown donated $1,500 to a fund for the removal of a Confederate statue located in downtown Tampa. He told the Tampa Bay Times he did so after seeing the events in Charlottesville, Va., that occurred earlier this month. "It was hard to watch," he said.
The $140,000 necessary to remove the Confederate statue from downtown Tampa was put together in one day with help from the area’s pro sports teams.
Brown, 27, has done a lot to help in the community during his time in the NHL. As the Times noted, he’s mentored young kids at local schools during the season, and uses the the online video game streaming service Twitch to raise money for “Hockey Is For Everyone,” the NHL’s diversity initiative.
"Being a role model for young minorities, I don't necessarily see it as an obligation or something that I have to do," Brown said. "But I think it is important to speak out when I feel strong about something and show any young minority, whether it's African-American or Hispanic, or you could go along the line and show them that's OK, and also that they can play, too."