With the repercussions of gun violence an issue close to his heart, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr recently hosted the mother of Trayvon Martin, whose 2012 shooting death became a national story.

The Warriors were in South Florida for a game Friday night against the Miami Heat when Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, met with both Kerr and his team.

“It was heartbreaking,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. “That’s a pain that will never go away.”

Like Fulton, Kerr lost a loved one to gun violence. His father, Malcolm, was assassinated while serving as the president of the American University of Beirut in 1984 and he has spoken out about gun violence after seemingly every mass shooting. Kerr was a college freshman when his father was murdered. Twenty-eight years later, Fulton’s 17-year-old son was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in an Orlando suburb. Zimmerman confronted Martin, an unarmed African American who was walking through his gated community, and claimed he was acting in self-defense when he shot him. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder in 2013.

Martin’s death sparked protests around the country and helped spur athletes’ activism. The Heat, then with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the roster, tweeted photos of themselves in hoodies like that Martin was wearing and used the #WeAreTrayvonMartin and #WeWantJustice tags. Martin’s death was personal for then-president Barack Obama, too, who noted, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Kerr, who wore an “I Am Trayvon Martin” wristband as he spoke with reporters over the weekend, admitting that the meeting with Martin’s mother was “not easy. What do you say to somebody who’s lost a child in that manner? There’s not much I can say. Just try to do nice things for people and kind gestures go a long way.”

Kerr took part in a town-hall event about gun violence after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. “I know how the Parkland families feel, or the Aurora [Colo.] families, or Sandy Hook [Conn.],” he said, referring to other mass shootings. “I met with some of the families from the Las Vegas shooting. … It’s awful. It’s devastating. It’s horrible.

“This is pretty simple: Let’s see if we can do something about it. Let’s save some lives.”

He chose to speak out then and a number of other times, he explained in 2018, because “I’m a citizen of this country and we live in a democracy. I feel like it’s my responsibility to speak on some of the things happening in the world today.”

As with Kerr, gun violence spurred Fulton to activism. A county employee for 24 years, she announced in May that she was a candidate for a seat on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

“I’m glad we could host her and she could meet some of our guys and have a fun night at the ballgame,” Kerr said. “It meant a lot to me.”

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