The NBA player who has been systematically exposing human rights violations being committed by the Chinese regime announced he would go further and change his last name to “Freedom” after becoming a U.S. citizen on Monday as a way to honor his struggle.
Enes Kanter Freedom will be the new name the Boston Celtics center will officially go by. Shams Charania, the senior reporter who covers the NBA at The Athletic and Stadium, announced on Twitter on Sunday later retweeted by Kanter himself.
The outspoken NBA player was born in Switzerland but was raised in Turkey and has Turkish citizenship. He will use Kanter as his middle name, and Freedom will be his new last name. In an interview with an NBC Sports expert in January this year, Kanter shared his desire to become a U.S. citizen and use an American name.
“I’m even thinking about adding an American name,” he said, adding, “I think it’s an amazing honor to become a citizen here. I’m just like why not? Why not add an American name?”
For years the Celtics player has been a vocal advocate for human rights in Turkey, and more recently, denounced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for its ruthless persecution of Uighur Muslims, Tibetans, practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline (also known as Falun Dafa), with forced organ harvesting among some of the atrocities it commits, as well as outrages against Hong Kong and Taiwan.
As Shams Charania himself indicated on The Athletic’s official website, “Kanter has been outspoken about social injustice and corrupt government regimes throughout his NBA career, particularly about the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his native Turkey.”
“In 2017, Kanter had his Turkish passport canceled while traveling overseas and his father was briefly imprisoned by the Turkish government. Kanter recently took aim at LeBron James’ relationship with Nike and the company’s alleged forced labor practices in China,” he also wrote.
Through social media and by wearing sneakers during NBA games that depict each of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese regime, Kanter is trying to raise awareness and keep visible the systematic genocide occurring in China.
Despite the pressures the Celtics player has been under, he has not given in to them or betrayed his conscience and continues his commitment to the causes.
As previously reported by The BL, during an interview with CNN, the player claimed that two NBA officials pressured him not to wear his “Free Tibet” shoes before a game and then hinted that he might be suspended.
Even the Celtics team is suffering from Chinese censorship. Chinese media giant Tencent restricted the team’s season opener to audiences in China and subsequently blacklisted the rest of its games there.
Enes Kanter, who will become a U.S. citizen today, has also called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the venue of the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
“There are so many athletes, so many actors, so many singers and rappers out there. They’re scared to say a word because they care too much about their money—the endorsement deals, what the teams they play for say,” he declared.
“They should know one thing: It should be morals and principles over money. It shouldn’t be the opposite way. People’s life depends on this,” Kanter added.