Legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the latest celebrity to openly defend Kyrie Irving's decision to remain unvaccinated. In a lengthy Instagram post, Mayweather Jr. called Irving a "great person" and urged him to "stand up and fight for what’s right."
“Kyrie (Irving), what’s up. I know you’re going through a lot. We had the chance to hang out in 2016 when you represented America, when you represented the red white and blue. You only want to be treated fair — You are great person, a great father, a great athlete and you believe what you believe. America is the land of the free. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and supposedly freedom to choose. Never be controlled by money," Mayweather Jr. said, according to Yahoo! Sports.
"I respect you for having some integrity and being your own man. A free mind makes its own choices, an enslaved mind follows the crowd. Stand for something or fall for anything. One man can lead a revolution to stand up and fight for what’s right. One choice, one word, one action can change the world. It’s crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough.’ Respect to you Kyrie and power to the people.”
Mayweather Jr. is not the only high-profile figure to offer their public support for Irving. ESPN analyst Jay Williams, former NBA player J.R. Smith and Chris Brown have also cheered the Brooklyn Nets point guard on.
"[Kyrie Irving is] the real hero! I stand with my brother," the best-selling artist wrote on Instagram.
"Whoever [doesn't] like it [can] go live [their] d--- [lives]. It's his choice and a d--- good one. [I'm] always in my brother's corner."
While Irving has the support of Brown and Mayweather Jr., he doesn't have the support of many doctors.
Vaccinated people are not as likely to spread the coronavirus as the unvaccinated. Even in the United States, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated are responsible for the overwhelming majority of transmission," Dr. Craig Spencer of the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center told The Atlantic.
"The fact that vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing COVID-related death doesn't mean they're 0% effective at preventing COVID-related death. Some people will die of COVID who have been fully vaccinated, but the vaccine prevents death at least tenfold over being unvaccinated, according to every recent study, and probably more than tenfold," Dr. Shira Doron of Tufts Medical Center explained to NBC Boston.
Health officials in the city of New York feel the same way as well. Current health guidelines prevent members of the Nets and New York Knicks from playing in home games until they are vaccinated. Irving is eligible to participate in games outside of New York, but the Nets will play without him until he can be a full-time participant.
The Nets have started out the season with a record of 2-2 and are set to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening.