Jeremy Ebobisse - Portland Timbers - celebrating

Portland Timbers striker Jeremy Ebobisse maintains one of MLS’s most thought-provoking presences on Twitter, speaking out on a range of issues across the worlds of politics, activism, social justice and much more.

This week the Duke University product explained more about his worldview and perspectives in an appearance on the RISE to WIN podcast, a project of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, an organization dubbed as an “unprecedented alliance of professional sports leagues, organizations, athletes, educators, media networks and sports professionals using sports to bring people together to promote understanding, respect and equality.”

The half-hour conversation is full of striking observations and anecdotes from Ebobisse, who credits the national firestorm of controversy around the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 as an epochal moment that guided him on the path of awareness he walks today. He also discusses the Timbers' Stand Together community outreach effort and other related topics. 

“When Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman,” he explained, “that really opened my eyes because that felt like could’ve been me. Not a lot of people who aren’t of my background can really relate to that, they don’t know what it feels like to just – it’s a shock, it’s a feeling I can’t really describe.”

He also revealed that his visibility as a member of the US youth national team programs has led to some intense online conversations.

“Playing for the U.S. Under-20 national team, where I’m getting people from all over the country who might not necessarily agree with me, I’ve been able to have back-and-forths with people,” he said. “The most important ones, I feel, were the few I had with people who disagreed with me. They might slide through my messages and say, ‘I hate you, you’re a terrible person, why are you even saying this stuff, you’re so uneducated.’

“And then I look past that initial insult, because obviously the frustration is coming from somewhere and I do genuinely want to understand why is there this rush to insult me for my ideology. Once we break through that … we’ll have a little discussion. And I can’t say that I’ve changed a lot of peoples’ minds, but I’ve definitely given them a little bit more of an understanding.”

Listen to the full episode here: