On the national holiday honoring murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., it is convenient to be respectful in the moment and then, hours later, go back to how things were. However, the truly committed ones don’t show out or show off because the calendar tells them to. They are in it day after day because justice matters in a world that is often biased, racist, and vile.
Detroit Pistons wing scorer Reggie Bullock is not a name most know. He’s not an All-Star. He’s rarely on SportsCenter. Bullock averages 12 points a game, nothing spectacular. He spaces the floor with his 3-point shot and occasionally grabs a rebound.
He was drafted in 2013 by the Clippers after three years playing for Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina. He didn’t get much playing time in Los Angeles- Doc Rivers doesn’t like to play young players and Bullock found himself in the Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan shadow. The organization didn’t have time to develop young players. They were championship contenders.
Bullock was traded to Phoenix and then Detroit. His first two years with the Pistons, he played 11 minutes and 15 minutes in consecutive seasons. Last year, he played 27 minutes and this year 30 minutes.
He’s a 38% 3-point specialist with sub-par defense. He has a James Harden-lite game. Threes or layups. He only makes 31% of his jump shots but in the 4th quarter he can be trusted to deliver.
The Sixers are (possibly) interested in a Bullock trade because they need more shooting. But what Bullock is doing on the court isn’t really the point on Martin Luther King Day. It is the rest of it.
Let’s start with murder.
One July, in West Baltimore, Mia Henderson was stabbed to death. She was grieved by many, especially her brother Reggie Bullock who said this about his sister:
“She was happy being who she was. She wasn’t worried about how others felt about her. A person that can isolate the whole world out and not care about other people’s feelings is a strong person, to me.”
Mia Henderson identified as transgender. When Shawn Oliver was found not guilty of her murder, (he was already serving a 10-year sentence for a drug crime) Bullock tweeted his shock: NOT GUILTY #standupforMia.
Since then Bullock has been an outspoken ally for the trans community when many professional athletes shy away from all LGBTQ issues. He honored his sister with a tattoo but used the wrong name. Kevin Long was a mirage; Mia was not him. When she left home, everyone knew her as Mia Henderson and Reggie Bullock realized he “wasn’t educated enough- that’s pretty much dead naming her.”
Bullock reflects on his sister and what she meant to him and his family. “She was just a power source.”
It could have ended there for Bullock but he used his sister’s senseless death, and the acquittal, as a platform to fight for trans equality. South Dakota has Senate Bill 49 that bars transgender students from competing on teams that correctly reflect their gender. He tweeted: All athletes should have the same access to the sport they love. I call on South Dakota lawmakers to join me in standing for equality and against #SB49. #ProtectTransStudents.
The death of Mia Henderson gave Bullock a heightened and immediate awareness of an underserved, marginalized and often harassed community. According to one study, transgender women of color between the ages of 14 and 34 are murdered at twice the rate of the general population. 75% of trans murders are women of color and 66% are under the age of 35. Of his sister, he writes her name on his shoes before every game, aware of his platform, and sadly, of his loss.
Reggie Bullock Tweets:
Just imagine what you and your family could do if everyone actually worked together, ENDLESS AMOUNT OF EMPIRES.
You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
Not all heroes wear capes.
Of the last tweet, he is on point. Sometimes heroes play a kids game, make 3- points shots, score 33 points in Minnesota, and in their downtime push for equality.