Michael Bennett Sr. got the call at 4:30 on the morning of Sunday Aug. 27. He knew that the early morning ringing was a terrible sign.
“You don’t want to answer the phone because you don’t want to find out [what happened], but you know you got to. So I answered it. And it was Michael,” Bennett Sr. told Sports Illustrated.
Bennett told his father the horrifying story of how what sounded like gun shots erupted in Vegas, which led to an officer putting a gun near his head and telling him he’d “blow his f***ing head off,” if he moved.
Bennett Sr. could hear the fear in his eldest son’s voice: “He was really upset, he was nervous, he was scared, he was shook. He felt like his life just flashed right before him. Any wrong move and he would have lost his life that night. Fortunately for him he didn’t say anything. If he had said something, maybe he wouldn’t be with us today.”
And, as Bennett would go on to explain, that’s what it’s like to grow up Black and raise sons who have to live with that fear. Hanging out with friends is never that simple. Two Black kids in a car is fine, but four is a gang.
“They’d be looked at as a gang and they’d get treated as such. That should not be the case. Nobody should have to tell their 15-year-old son he can’t go get a burger with his friends because you look like you’re in a gang. Because of the color of your skin. Growing up we taught them that, we instilled that in them, because we wanted them to be safe when they were not with us,” said Michael’s father.
The eldest Bennett, who served in the military, also finds it interesting that people are criticizing his son for being “unpatriotic” because he is sits during the national anthem.
“I joined the military so people like Michael and Martellus and whoever else out there can take a knee or make a stand, peacefully, and get their point across and not be ridiculed,” he said.
Read the rest of Michael Bennett Sr.’s Sports Illustrated interview here.