Black History Month

Marcus Smart Talks About Incident With Police as a Rookie

Marcus Smart talks about an incident with police as a rookie originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Before Marcus Smart gained popularity in Boston as a beloved Celtic, he endured a harrowing experience with a police officer who profiled him based on his skin color.

As part of Black History Month, Smart retold the story to NBC Sports Boston to point out how Blacks and minorities are often treated unfairly by police.

"I'm driving to the Garden, I'm getting ready, and of course I'm speeding because I'm late," Smart said. "I think I'm a rookie at this time, I'm pretty sure because I have to be there early so I'm rushing. A cop pulls me over, you know, understandably. The officer he walks up to the car. ...

"I tell the cop my registration's in my glove department, do you mind if I reach for it? I grab it, and he's kind of looking at me up and down, like analyzing me. He looks at my license and registration and he goes, 'Is this your car?' When you have my registration and it says my name on it. So, 'Yes sir, it is my car.' And he's looking at me, he said 'Wow' ... 'You speak nice, you speak very well. You dress well, so you're not a rapper.' I'm just like, 'What?'

"'So you must be some type of athlete, which athlete are you?' I'm just like, 'Excuse me?' 'I play for the Boston Celtics.' And when I told him that, it changed. He says 'Oh wow, my family are big Celtics fans.' And it's just like, what if I wasn't an athlete? Would you still feel the same way you're feeling now? Because before I told you who I was and what I did, it was a whole different story. And that's terrifying."

Smart notes that growing up, his mother taught him rules for how to act when pulled over by police: Hands at 10 and 2, let the officer know if you're reaching for anything, and don't wear a hooded sweatshirt. As he points out, the way many Black individuals and minorities have to think, is "survive."

"A lot of African Americans and minorities aren't blessed to be somebody of status, and it hurts because they will be treated unfairly," Smart said. "We're humans, and you should treat us like humans. That's the problem, you know, being a Black man in this country. And one day having to tell my kids this is how things go, and this is how you have to think and look."

Hear more from Smart in the video above.

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