Suns Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

PJ Tucker
Suns forward PJ Tucker and several of his teammates visited the National Civil Rights Museum during a recent trip to Memphis.
By Aaron Seidlitz, Suns.com
Posted: Jan. 19, 2013

Even before they entered the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, a hush fell over the group of four Suns players.

While on the road to play the Grizzlies in early December, P.J. Tucker, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and Diante Garrett strode up to the Lorraine Motel – where the museum is located – and were overcome by the realization that this was the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

“Everybody was really kind of quiet at first,” Tucker said. “There was just so much stuff to take in – there was so much to see and to read. They tell you so much about it (Dr. King being killed). They go over everything that lead up to it happening, everything that happened right after it and just all of things that were going on at that time period.

“It was unbelievable. It was a memorable experience, not just for that day but for my whole life.”

Growing up in North Carolina, Tucker said that he was taught a lot about the civil rights movement by family members when he was growing up. Those memories caused him to think about his own children’s future.

“Now I want to bring my whole family back,” he said. “I really think it’s something they should all see.”

Johnson also grew up in the South – Texas, to be exact – and he couldn’t help but be moved emotionally as he began to look at what was around him at the museum. Even through the darkness of that period in American history, the 25-year-old forward was able to see the good things the efforts of people like Dr. King produced.

“You see some of the stuff at the museum and you get upset and frustrated, but it’s also uplifting to see how people always come through,” Johnson said. “It’s not even about history, because people are still trying to do right in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s amazing to think about what he was fighting for at that time, and we’re here now just playing basketball.”

The experience the Suns’ players had at the museum served them with an invaluable reminder of the efforts made by those involved in the civil rights movement; a reminder that will make this Martin Luther King Day an even more meaningful one.

“Every year, I would reflect on his speeches and the other things he did when his birthday came around,” Johnson said. “He’s a person whose legacy will always live on.”