In a week where he led a march in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma demanding justice for the officers involved in the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Trae Young continues to use his platform to stand up for civil issues.
Young was one of three NBA stars who have sent letters to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt demanding sentence commutation for Julius Jones. Jones is on death row after being convicted for a 1999 murder in a trial he never took the stand in. Jones’ family has maintained his innocence for over the past 20 years.
“Growing up in Oklahoma I learned to love God, value the truth and care about people,” Young wrote in his letter. “I have taken these values with me during my amazing journey, which began in Norman and has taken me all the way to Atlanta and the National Basketball Association. These values drive me to write this letter and ask you to correct a grave injustice by commuting the death sentence of Julius Jones.”
Young later wrote Jones’ co-defendant changed his story at least six times when interviewed by the police. Since Jones’ attorneys were inexperienced and unprepared for the trial, they didn’t cross-examine the co-defendant for his inconsistencies, Young argued in the letter. It was also discovered in the investigation the analyst who studied the bullet later pled guilty for giving false testimony.
“Right now, Julius Jones’ life is in your hands,” Young wrote. “When I am not sure what to do, I seek guidance from God. I pray that you will find in your hearts the love and mercy for Julius that I have found, and recommend and grant his commutation.”
Jones’ case is one that Viola Davis and ABC highlighted in a 2018 docuseries “The Last Defense.” The case garnered attention again when Kim Kardashian West posted a series of tweets demanding justice for Jones in October 2019. Kardashian West shouted out Young, Griffin and Westbrook for writing letters to Oklahoma’s Governor on Thursday afternoon.
Young retweeted Kardashian West and commented “Bring Julius Jones Home!”
Griffin is also an Oklahoma native who played at the University of Oklahoma. Westbrook played for the Oklahoma City Thunder for 11 seasons from 2008-2019.