Will Smith’s Death and Gun Control

William Raymond Smith III was born and raised in Utica, New York. While attending Proctor High School in Utica, Smith received accomplishment such as the U.S. All-American pick and highly rated prospect in the state, according to the Prep Football Report. After high school he played college football at Ohio State from 2000-2003, helping to lead the Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS National Championship. He entered the draft in 2004 in the first round he was selected by New Orleans Saints. The Former New Orleans Saints defensive ended died in a shooting on April 9, 2016, in the Lower Garden District, New Orleans. As reported by CNN, surveillance footage reveals pieces of evidence as to what happened. The video shows a Mercedes SUV, possibly Smith’s, running into the back of a Hummer probably Cardell Hayes after an abrupt stop. Both vehicles were at a standstill for a few seconds after the contact. Then the Hummer tries to pull over to the side of the road, the Mercedes SUV speeds off around the Hummer, Moments later the Hummer trails closely behind Mercedes SUV. According to the police, an altercation occurs a short distance away, where this time the Hummer rear ends the Mercedes. Both men got out of their vehicles to exchange words, during the exchange six gunshots were fired. A bystander calls 911 reporting that “there’s a male down with about six gun wounds to the chest.” That referred to Smith. His wife was shot once in the right leg.” Four minutes after the shots the police arrive; they found Smith in the middle of the road, hanging out the vehicle bleeding to death. Smith dies at the scene. Hayes’ lawyer is claiming self-defense ; Hayes lawyer states, “That he didn’t leave — and, moreover, that he’d secured a witness who was heading out “Now, tell me if that’s the behavior that’s consistent with someone who’s an animal out here looking for blood,” Fuller said. “His actions are totally consistent with someone that is complying with a police investigation.”

A passionate and frustrated Sean Payton, the Saints head coach, publicly shared his opinion about the shooting. Not only does Payton want stricter gun control laws, but if it were up to him, we would be living in a country without guns.  Payton said, “Two hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?’ The idea that we need them to fend off intruders … people are more apt to draw them (in other situations). That’s some silly stuff we’re hanging on to.”  He goes on to talk about the fact that everyone needing a gun is absurd, and he discussed how the police in England don’t carry guns.  Later on for some peace of mind Payton got online to find out as much information about the weapon. The gun was a .45 designed during World War I. The gun can kill a person in four seconds from one shot, but Smith took six shots. This information worried Payton, and it made him reevaluate The Second Amendment.  Payton stated that “We could go online and get 10 of them, and have them shipped to our house tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t believe that was the intention when they allowed for the right for citizens to bear arms.” With Sean Payton being a high profile person, did he do the right thing by letting his emotions get the best of him causing him to dive head first into one of America’s most controversial issue? Gun control is often a popularized and contentious issue in America today. The Second Amendment to the Constitution allows citizens the right to bear arms, which many citizens hold dear. I believe he was well within his rights to comment about something he felts so close to his heart regardless of what kind of uproar it may cause. Furthermore, he should use his celebrated status to bring awareness and highlight gun control issues. Sports has usually been one of the driving forces to lead social and political change. Gun control and self-defense is an important issue that sports can spearhead to get some progress.  Right now in America the gun control topic is heating up. Matter of fact, a Bernardino mass shooting caused state lawmakers to give approval for gun control bills, which would outlaw assault rifles with removable magazine clips that hold more than ten rounds, and homemade guns need to be registered with the state. The Bernardino shooting took place in December where two terrorists killed 14 people dead and 22 wounded.  The attackers used assault rifles. But some people have opposed the gun law. One man, in particular, Ed Worley, member of the national rifle association, stated that “We continue to oppose banning guns for citizens who have no criminal background,” Worley told the panel. “People should be able to own any kind of gun they want to own in the United States of America.”  Just to play devil’s advocate even though the law prohibits the sale of a particular type of gun; criminals can still get their hands on illegal guns of just steal a gun from a family member. With all the hype with lawmakers prohibiting certain firearms and the death of Will Smith, this the best time for players and coaches to pressure the legislators in order to push for stricter gun control laws. Even if stricter gun control measures do not have an everlasting effect something was done to combat gun violence.



Cuba vs. Rays

On Tuesday, March 22, 2016, an exhibition game took place at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays versus the Cuban national baseball team. Because of the torn relationship between Cuba and the United States, which existed for more than 50 years, some considered the game a breakthrough for sports diplomacy as President Obama and Raul Castro sat side by side. Since the Baltimore Orioles first exhibition in March 1999, no major league team has visited Cuba. Here is a quick recap of the match. In the first inning, Dayron Varona received a warm welcome back to Cuba, after defecting, started the game off with an infield fly to first base. Brad Miller knocked the ball directly to the centerfielder which he made a spectacular falling catch. Evan Longoria ended the inning with a strikeout. Matt Moore in the bottom of the first got into some trouble after pitching back to back singles. He manages to gain two outs one from Yordan Manduley and the other from Yosvani Alarcon. Moore got out of the jam with two ground balls ending the inning. Second inning Kevin Kiermaier gain the first hit against Cuban pitcher which Kiermaier turned into a double with two outs. James Loney would bring Kiermaier home with a ground ball. In the third inning, the Rays led 3-0. Next Matt Moore pitch a quick, quiet sixth inning. He pitched six hits all being singles while striking out three and walking one with zero runs. In the seventh inning, Mikie Moore started with a walk, while on first Mikie tried to take second before Steve Pearce hit a single to bring Moore home extending the lead to 4-0. The Rays had an opportunity to end the game by having the bases loaded with one out, but Richie Shaffer hit a direct shot toward the shortstop securing the Rays third outs. In the ninth inning, Cuba manages to get on the board after Rudy Reyes home run from a two-strike pitch from Alex Colome. Colome ended the game by striking out Guillermo Aviles, thus ending the game.

Later on that day, President Obama delivered a speech addressing the Cuban people at the National Theater in Havana. For the most part in Obama‘s speech, he did not endorse the communist system. Obama tried to avoid the most recent history of Cuba and the United States, focusing more on Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. During his speech he used quotes from Jose Marti’s poem, Cultivo una rosa blanca, as a way to identify better with the Cuban people. Then Obama addressed the shortcomings of Cuba but at the same time, he spoke highly of Cuba’s education system, the medical care provided to thousands by Cuban doctors in West Africa, and the one million of Cuban exiles who left their home. Also, Obama spoke about political freedom, pointing out the progress the United States gained due to American democracy Obama stated that “The fact that we have open debates within America’s own democracy is what allows us to get better,” he said. “People organized; they protested; they debated these issues; they challenged government officials.” This statement was bold because it is indirectly challenging Cuba’s intolerance for protest. Although the United States have had ideological, social, historical, and economic differences, President Obama tries to use baseball as a bridge to unify both nations, also he strategically appeals to the youth because when the Castro regime dies out the young Cubans will be next in line to run the country.

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s retired leader, release a pessimistic opinion of Obama’s speech. He accused Obama of sweet talking the Cuban people and of ignoring the accomplishments of communist rule. Fidel critiqued Obama statement about leaving the past in the past and working towards a better tomorrow “as friends and as neighbors and as family, together” as being sappy and over-the-top stating that (Fidel) “One assume that everyone of us ran the risk of a heart of attack listening to these words.” Fidel reminded Cubans of the United States attempts to weaken and overthrow Cuba’s government in the past and how Cuba made it without the support of the United States. A spokesman for the White House, Josh Ernest, thinks that since Fidel responded so forcefully to Obama’s visit that it was an indication of President Obama’s significant impact on the Cuban people. Fidel took power in a 1959 revolution, led the nation up until 2006, where he fell ill, passing his power to Raul. Now Fidel spends most of his time in seclusion occasionally he will do an opinion piece through some source of media. Ernest tried to use this information as a way to downplay the significant and influence Fidel once held.

After the exhibition game on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays played against the Pittsburgh Pirates that following Saturday in Bradenton, Florida. During the match, a protester ran across the field throwing two bottles into the Ray’s dugout in protest to their visit to Cuba also while the suspect sprinted across the field, he began to yell in Spanish in disapproval of the Castro regime. The police arrested the protester who was a man of Cuban descent in the seventh inning and charged him with assault, causing an affray, and trespassing.  Ray’s Jake Odorizzi stated that  “It was a Cuba thing. . . According to the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t speak Spanish too well. … I think it was a Cuban person, frustrated about the politics of it, I guess. He threw two beer cans. Nobody got hit. Nobody did anything. Maybe some guys got wet. It was a Cuba thing.” This act suggests that not everyone is pleased with President Obama’s efforts to normalize relationships between Cuba and the United States. Lastly, will this one baseball game change Cuba? I am not sure, but I do believe it is a step in the right direction as far as normalizing relationships between Cuba and the United States. President Obama offered a friendly hand to Cuba; now it is up to the Cuban people to decide which path to take.