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NBA superstar LeBron James has led widespread condemnation of a school football coach who knocked a nine-year-old player to the ground during a youth tournament in Florida.
Gerrel Williams, a coach for the Savannah Gators in the American Youth Football National Championship, was identified after footage showing him knocking one of his players to the ground amid what appeared to be a significant verbal tirade.
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While the coach apologised soon after the footage went viral, he quickly lost the backing of his school district, who had initially called for people to accept his apology.
He has since been given a life ban from American Youth Football, as well as losing his job as team coach and another job he held as a counsellor at a corrections facility.
“I’m not going to make no excuses for what I did,” Williams said in a video posted amid the backlash.
“I was wrong. There is no excuse for my actions.
“He forgives me and his parents have forgiven me, so nobody else should be bashing me.”
Despite the apology and eventual further consequences, sympathy for the coach was in short supply.
James was one of many high-profile athletes taking to social media to denounce the treatment of the nine-year-old.
The Los Angeles Lakers star said there was no way he would have stood by as a parent and allowed that to happen to any child, let along one of his own.
“Ain’t no way! Couldn’t be my kid,” James posted on his Instagram story, accompanying footage of the incident.
“Hell if I there and it’s not even my kid we gone have more than words for sure.”
An incident report was lodged with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office according to local news reports, however the mother of the child involved reportedly declined to press any charges against the former coach.
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