The Miami Heat announced Tuesday that Meyers Leonard will be “away” from the NBA team indefinitely after he used an anti-Semitic slur during a “Call of Duty” stream on Twitch.
Leonard made the comment on Monday, seemingly directing the slur at someone else who was playing the popular “Call of Duty” game.
“F***ing cowards. Don’t f***ing snipe me. You f***ing k**e b**ch,” Leonard was heard saying during the stream. At the time, Leonard had over 69,000 followers on Twitch, in addition to over 550,000 followers between his Instagram and Twitter profiles.
Meyers Leonard says racial slurs while playing CoD pic.twitter.com/WHwUnbV0pR
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) March 9, 2021
Leonard apologized in a statement, claiming that he did not know what the slur meant.
“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” Leonard said in a statement posted to his Instagram account. “While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.”
“I am now more aware of its meaning and I am committed to properly seeking out people who can help educate me about this type of hate and how we can fight it,” Leonard continued. “I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. This is not a proper representation of who I am and I want to apologize to the Arisons, my teammates, coaches, front office, and everyone associated with the Miami Heat organization, to my family, to our loyal fans and to others in the Jewish community who I have hurt. I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.”
Micky Arison, an Israeli-American billionaire, owns the Miami Heat.
One of Leonard’s sponsors, Astro Gaming, later announced that they had terminated their contract with the center, writing “We are aware of comments made by sponsored streamer, Meyers Leonard. ASTRO is committed to creating an inclusive gaming environment and one that combats racism and other forms of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.”
“For that reason, we are ending our relationship with Meyers Leonard, effective immediately.”
— ASTRO Gaming (@ASTROGaming) March 10, 2021
According to the New York Post, “Professional eSports organization FaZe Clan cut ties with the 29-year-old on Tuesday,” with Unilad also reporting that Origin PC and Scuf Gaming had also confirmed “they’ll no longer be working with [Leonard].”
Two hours after Leonard’s apology, the Miami Heat released their official statement.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech. The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise. To hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing and hurtful to all those who work here, as well as the larger South Florida, Miami Heat and NBA communities.”
“Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely. The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation,” the statement concluded.