Ohio State's E.J. Liddell Speaks on Death Threats: 'It's Better to Use My Voice'

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 24, 2021

Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell (32) plays against Illinois in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Days after revealing racist and threatening messages directed toward him following a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, Ohio State star E.J. Liddell explained why he went public about the harassment. 

"I'm not the only one going through things like this," Liddell told reporters. "It's better to use my voice than to stay quiet all the time. I can take criticism, people telling me I suck and things, but I just used my voice and I feel like [with] a lot of other athletes using their voices this [harassment] is going to slow down and in the future go to an end."

Liddell was far from the only player in the tournament to receive that type of targeted harassment. Illinois star Kofi Cockburn also shared a racist and xenophobic message directed at him following the Illini's second-round loss to Loyola-Chicago. 

Big Ten players have rallied around the OSU forward in recent days with players from opposing schools like Rocket Watts, Trevion Williams, Malik Hall and D'Mitrik Trice all reaching out to offer support. 

But the Buckeyes star made clear that these types of comments aren't new to him. He said it's a pattern that is continually intensifying, and after playing through a pandemic, these comments felt more uncalled for than ever to him:

"When a season ends you don't need to hear negative comments, especially not threatening comments. I'd rather people see us like humans and pick us up, because we sacrificed so much for this season ... really lost our social lives during the season.

"I definitely don't think people really see how much we gave up. We were hesitant about everything — going to the mall, food court, had to stay away from people and get away from life honestly, just for us to sacrifice and play basketball and this thing we love. I don't regret anything."

Campus police are looking into the threats sent to Liddell, but when asked, the forward said he wasn't likely to join any prosecution that comes from the investigation.

"Not really," Liddell said. "I'm trying not to think about it."