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Atlanta Hawks mourn the deaths of John Lewis, C.T. Vivian

The franchise honors two southern icons.

Nashville Public Library Awards Civil Right Icon Congressman John Lewis Literary Award Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

“Our world mourns.”

Those were the first words of a tweet from Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce on Saturday morning, the day after civil rights leaders John Lewis and C.T. Vivian died.

Lewis was one of the first staples in the community Pierce met when the franchise hired him in 2018.

“Last night, our city and country lost one of its heroes and most important civil rights icons who was highly regarded for his nearly six decades of social activism and getting into ‘good trouble,’” the Hawks wrote in a statement. “He continued to inspire so many with his courage, sacrifice and unwavering dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles. His legacy will forever be remembered throughout the city’s peaceful protests to fight racial inequality in the 1960s, and our nation will be forever indebted to him for his lifelong dedication to public service. The entire Hawks organization sends their deepest condolences to Mr. Lewis’ family and his friends.”

Although Pierce said he never had the honor of meeting Vivian, he still wrote he was “thankful for him all the same.” The Hawks also released a statement on the loss of Vivian.

“The Atlanta Hawks organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Civil Rights Movement leader, minister, and author, Dr. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian,” the organization’s statement read. “The City of Atlanta and the entire world has lost a distinguished icon whose leadership pushed the United States to greater justice and racial equality for African Americans. To inspire the next generation, Vivian founded the C.T. Vivian Leadership Institute in Atlanta, with the intent to create a model of leadership culture in the city that would be dedicated to the development and sustainability of our communities. He also started Basic Diversity, one of the nation’s first diversity consulting firms, now led by his son, Al, who has been a great partner to our organization. We are grateful for Dr. Vivian’s many years of devotion to Atlanta and thankful that we had the opportunity to honor him and share his legacy with our fans. The entire Hawks organization extends its most sincere condolences to the grieving family.”

Vivian and Lewis were two civil rights icons who were invited to a Hawks’ game in 2015.

Pierce has always made it a point to reach out to some of the cities’ legendary figures to learn more about its history.

“There are so many people who have paved the way in different avenues, different sectors that have contributed to the success and community here in Atlanta,” Pierce told Peachtree Hoops in 2018. “I’ve just tried to learn about it, first and foremost, to present an opportunity to get myself, my staff, my team in front of those guys, and just take as much knowledge, insight, perspective that we can from anyone that’s ever been a part of the beautiful city of Atlanta.”