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How cousin's prison sentence inspired DeAndre Hopkins to wear No. 10

The killing of George Floyd has opened up new conversations about race and law enforcement in the United States.

DeAndre Hopkins used the moment to share why he chose to wear No. 10.

The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he dedicated his jersey number to a cousin based on a jail sentence in his home state of South Carolina.

Hopkins’ upbringing

Hopkins has talked in the past about how his upbringing has inspired his career and how he presents himself.

After his trade from the Houston Texans, Hopkins spoke with Sports Illustrated about growing up poor in the rural south where both of his parents sold drugs and his dad died when he was six months old.

“If I let the judgment of other people dictate the reality of my life, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now,” Hopkins told SI about his trade from the Texans and reports that head coach Bill O’Brien had problems with the people in his social circle.

He also told SI that a stigma around dreadlocks allowing employment discrimination inspired how he wears his hair.

“That’s what happens, especially in America,” Hopkins said. “That’s why I wear my hair up with pride, because I know that we, as people, drew strength from our hair. I will never cut [mine] because I know who I am. And there’s power in knowing exactly who I am.”

DeAndre Hopkins uses his jersey number to highlight a system that promotes disparate prison sentencing for black Americans. (AP Photo/Weston Kenney, File)

Why No. 10 matters to Hopkins

Hopkins didn’t expound Tuesday on the nature of his cousin’s arrest. But the message is clear. Hopkins believes his cousin received a jail sentence that wasn’t proportionate to his crime.

Studies have long shown that black Americans suffer more punitive prison sentences than white Americans for comparable crimes, especially when it comes to drug offenses.

Conversations are shifting in America, and Hopkins is one of many athletes seizing the moment and their platforms to engage.

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