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Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies speak out on Tyre Nichols’ death amid furor over arrest video

As the Grizzlies were preparing to wrap up a five-game road trip in Minnesota on Friday night, they made it clear that their hearts are with their home city.

Ahead of a matchup with the Timberwolves, the team released a statement addressing the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was pulled over and violently arrested by Memphis police officers on Jan. 7, then died three days later.

“We are distraught to find ourselves dealing with a needless loss of life due to police brutality, and this time it was one of Memphis’ own,” the statement said. “We’re thinking of the Nichols family and friends, and share the pain being felt throughout our community. So, let’s support each other and respect how our fellow Memphians are coping.

“We have faith in this city and our power to heal. To the Nichols family and friends, we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences for your loss.”

Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith, all of whom are Black, were charged Thursday with multiple crimes, including second-degree murder and aggravated assault. All five were fired on Jan. 20.

Video of the traffic stop was released Friday night, leading to public outcry and potential demonstrations around the country.

Before the footage was published online, Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. tweeted a message of support to the Nichols family, saying that the Grizzlies “have been paying attention” and are urging “peaceful protests.”

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins also offered his thoughts during a pregrame interview with local play-by-play broadcaster Pete Pranica.

“The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols really hit us hard, and it’s been tough being on the road, not being home,” Jenkins said. “And I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They’re going through a lot. . . .

“As the head coach of this team, [I’m] trying to get everyone to understand the responsibilities we have moving forward beyond basketball. This is a stark reminder of what position we’re in to unify our city.”

The Grizzlies and Timberwolves observed a moment of silence before tipoff.

“The Minnesota Timberwolves and the entire NBA family are deeply saddened by the tragic killing of Tyre Nichols,” the Target Center public address announcer said. “We extend our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies to Tyre’s family, friends, loved ones, the Memphis community and communities across the country during this difficult time.”

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