Update, Oct. 25: Celtics’ Jaylen Brown ends partnership with Kanye West’s Donda Sports
CHICAGO — Jaylen Brown was one of the first two major athletes to sign with Donda Sports, the marketing agency created by controversial rapper/producer Kanye West, and he told the Globe Monday he will remain with the agency but condemns West’s recent statements.
West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, has made antisemitic remarks in recent weeks in several interviews.
He was scheduled to appear on LeBron James’s “The Shop” roundtable series but the episode will not air after Maverick Carter, James’s business partner, said West used the platform to “reiterate more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes.”
Creative Artists Agency, which represented West, broke ties with the rapper Monday.
In Los Angeles this weekend, an antisemitic group hung a banner over the 405 freeway reading, “Kanye is right about the Jews.” The signs were condemned by the city’s mayor and district attorney.
“First, I don’t condone any hurt, harm, or danger toward any group of people or individuals whatsoever,” said Brown, who along with Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald signed with Donda Sports in May. “I’ve been a member of my community, trying to uplift my community, and I’m going to continue to do that.”
Donda Sports is geared to help athletes with their off-field marketing efforts. They are not Brown’s agents. He is represented in his basketball contracts and other NBA business by Jason Glushon.
When asked if he planned to break ties with Donda Sports, Brown said he is more focused on the overall goals of the agency than the actions of West.
“A lot of time goes into creating an entity or organization,” he said. “The reason why I signed with Donda Sports, it represented education, it represented activism, disruption, it represented single-parent households, and a lot more people are involved in something like that. A lot of people that I work with, work with their families, build love and respect for, spending time in the summer. A lot of people involved. That’s what the organization from my vantage point from Donda Sports represented.
“I think it continues to represent that and it’s a sensitive topic for a lot of people. But a lot of stuff you see me doing in the community and you’ve already seen me doing in the community is a direct translation from what that organization has stood for.”
On its Instagram page, Donda Sports has 280,000 followers but no posts. The Donda Sports website has only links to merchandise that is currently sold out. Neither the IG page nor the website has any photos of West or the athletes. The Donda Sports Twitter page has 30,500 followers and a pinned tweet with photos of Brown and West taken after a Celtics-Warriors game in March and of Donald and West.
“Like I said, I don’t condone any hurt, harm, or danger toward a group of people,” Brown said. “I will continue to be a member of my community, uplift my community through my work and what I’ve done throughout my career, and I’m going to continue to do that work.”
Brown said he has considered beginning a community service agency of his own, as he has been active in the Boston area with his Waltham-based 7uice Foundation. He held an Oct. 15 event at the Seaport to give out a collection of “7uice” clothing to patrons. Several Celtics teammates made an appearance.
“That has been a thought process of mine for a while now,” he said. “Obviously people like LeBron has done stuff like that, form their own and been a part of it, indirectly or directly. But at this point now, just dealing with whatever is in front of me in the moment. My thing is about using my platform to be a voice for people in communities that don’t necessarily have a voice, such as ones that I’m from. It would be a lot to say that. I’m working on what’s in front of me right now, building off of this season and taking care of business.
“It’s a sensitive subject and a lot of energy and time and effort are going into it currently. It’s being evaluated but I can’t say as of right now.”
On his relationship with West, Brown said, “He’s someone who’s obviously dealing with a lot of adversity that’s in front of him right now and everybody can see it and it’s public. But a lot of people in the world are dealing with adversity and things that are going on that’s in front of them and they need help. It’s a lot going on right now.”
Brown said he understands that any public support could be interpreted as approval. He repeated that he does not approve of West’s statements.
“It’s tough to speak on because everybody is going to form their own opinions about what you have to say, but I look at people that I’ve been around, family, friends that you love,” he said. “To me, it’s unconditional. To me, as they’re working through problems, we’re working through it in unison.
“I don’t agree with everything that everybody does. Like I said, I don’t stand for any hurt, harm, or danger toward anybody, but sometimes people need unconditional love and help to get them through the situation.”
Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.