LeVelle Moton was a coach at Sanderson High in North Carolina when he was driving his truck in May 2005 with newly crowned NCAA champion Raymond Felton in his passenger’s seat.
Now the head coach at N.C. Central and an NCAA Tournament regular, Moton went on Twitter on Wednesday to share a personal story from 15 years ago as a response to what he saw occur with the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police earlier this week.
Moton wrote that he was speaking on the telephone with his mother as he drove, when he noticed a police car trailing him and then was alarmed to see the car’s warning lights flash and hear the siren blare. When Moton pulled over, he wrote on Twitter, he was not approached carefully and asked for his license, the normal course of events during a traffic stop.
Moton said the police officer who was driving, and his partner, rushed to his truck with their guns pulled. “He snatches me out of my truck and forces me to spread-eagle on my truck,” Moton wrote. “He’s kicking my ankles, forcing me to spread my legs while his partner is telling me, ‘Don’t say an F-ing word’ and he’s calling for backup.”
Moton had been a star player at N.C. Central and played professionally overseas. He was beginning a coaching career that since has led him to four NCAA appearances and four Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles since 2014.
He said he was never asked for his driver’s license or registration and the police were not aware that Felton was in the truck because his windows were tinted. Moton said Felton tried to keep his mother calm on the phone as all this developed.
“They shove me to the pavement and force me to sit on the curb. They’re yet to tell me why they pulled me,” Moton said. They asked if they could search his truck, and he refused. “They say, ‘It’s because you got dope I the car, huh?’”
When a backup car arrived, the driver of that car also pulled his gun, Moton said, and asked to see Moton’s driver’s license.
“I told him, ‘I’m not reaching in this truck for you to shoot me,’” Moton said.
It was then the backup driver’s partner recognized Moton and his passenger as prominent basketball figures from the region.
“These are not dope boys,” Felton said the fourth officer declared.
Moton said the initial officer soon offered a handshake and apology, but Moton declined. He sat he sat on the curb for a half-hour, “humiliated” and allowed that it was “the first time in my life I felt less than a man.”
Moton said he did not speak publicly at the time because Felton had declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season at North Carolina and he did not want any negative circumstance to affect his draft value. Felton became the fifth overall selection the next month.
“My mom was crying, I was emotionally paralyzed but was thankful to just be alive,” Moton wrote. “When I see brothers like George Floyd and countless others, I’m triggered. My stomach turns and my heart becomes heavy for their loved ones. It means more than a hashtag. It’s personal for many who can understand the feeling of being targeted. See, that cop didn’t see a coach. The cop didn’t see Ray as a national champion from UNC. He saw what he perceived as ‘two dope boys,’ and that’s what was scary.”
Moton noted that many Division I players, who help coaches to earn handsome livings and, in many cases, create generational wealth for their families, are African-American and challenged them to support Floyd’s family “and see that justice is brought to his name. He needs you! His family needs you. Your student-athletes need you! Black people need you!”
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