Racist remarks apparently made by at least one Laguna Hills High School student toward a Black player on the Portola boys basketball team have circulated on social media in recent days.
The remarks were made during the Laguna Hills and Portola varsity game Friday night at Portola High in Irvine. They were captured on a video shot by the Portola basketball program, which had a camera placed in the stands near a group of Laguna Hills fans.
The comments were made about Portola senior guard Makai Brown, who is Black, as he shot free throws and at other points in the game.
The comments directed toward Brown were heard clearly on portions of the video viewed by the Register. They included a series of racial epithets, including references to chains, slavery and an animal.
Brown’s mother, Sabrina Little-Brown, shared the video and discussed it on her Instagram account.
Little-Brown described how her son found out about the remarks.
“On Saturday morning before practice my son was watching game film as he always does. He came into my room STUNNED,” she wrote. “What he heard directed 100% to him is contained in this video, but these disgusting, racist insults continued throughout the entire game footage. Needless to say, our family is up in arms.”
Little-Brown added that her son “was subjected to verbal abuse & aggressive behavior by the Laguna Hills Head Coach, David Yates” and that her husband confronted Yates about it during the game. Little-Brown’s post stated that incident led to “the (Laguna Hills) assistant coach” telling her husband to ” ‘meet him outside in the parking lot after the game’ and of course my husband responded. His verbal response resulted in him (her husband) being escorted out of the game.”
Laguna Hills athletic director Scott Wilford said Monday that Laguna Hills High was aware of the video.
“This does not represent our community,” Wilford said. “What was said is reprehensible.”
Wilford said further comment from Laguna Hills High would have to come from the school’s principal Bill Hinds. As of Tuesday evening, Hinds had not responded to requests for a comment.
Yates did not immediately respond Tuesday to a text message requesting his comments about the game.
The Laguna Hills varsity boys basketball game scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed, Wilford said. Laguna Hills was to have played a home game against Woodbridge on Tuesday.
Laguna Hills, Portola and Woodbridge play in the Pacific Coast League. First-place Portola defeated fourth-place Laguna Hills 58-48 on Friday.
The video was played Monday night at the Irvine Council meeting by council member Anthony Kuo. Brown was in the audience for the meeting.
“We’ve got your back,” Kuo said to Brown. “We’ve got your team’s back.”
Kuo said he and Irvine Council member Tammy Kim had spoken with Irvine Unified School District leadership and Laguna Hills Council members about having Laguna Hills High and the Saddleback Valley Unified School District address the event. Laguna Hills is a Saddleback Valley Unified school.
Other council members expressed similar support for the player and team, and said such occurrences cannot be tolerated.
“We do not tolerate hate speech or hate incidents in any way whatsoever,” Mayor Farrah Khan said.
— Orange County Register City Editor Heather McRea contributed to this story.