Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves wants to distance himself from the “AR-15” nickname.
He is the second athlete this week to state his discomfort with the moniker, based on his initials and jersey number but also the model of a semi-automatic assault rifle linked to mass shootings.
“I don’t condone any gun violence that happens around our country,” Reaves told ESPN. “But you can’t really control what [nickname] people give you. I mean, I didn’t come out and say my name was that.”
University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson expressed the same sentiment Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta.
Richardson, a rising junior for the Gators, said he wants to rebrand himself and “become a better person.”
“While a nickname is only a nickname and ‘AR-15’ was simply a representation of my initials combined with my jersey number, it is important to me that my name and brand are no longer associated with the assault rifle that has been used in mass shooting, which I do not condone in any way or form,” he shared in a statement on Twitter.
Richardson, 21, passed for 529 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 401 yards and three TDs in seven games last season for Florida.
Reaves, 24, averaged 7.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 61 games (19 starts) last season for the Lakers as an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas in 2021-22.
An AR-15 was the gun used in the May 21 shooting that killed 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. It has been the weapon of choice in at least 11 mass shootings in the U.S. since 2012, per USA Today.
–Field Level Media