CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Kofi Cockburn wore a shirt with the words, ‘More than an athlete’ written on it during his first time talking with the media since announcing he was returning to Illinois for his sophomore season. Growing up in Jamaica, Cockburn says he never experienced racism, but after coming to the United States, he’s seen it first hand. The 7-foot, 295 pound center is doing his part to use his platform as a college athlete to speak out against social and racial injustice.
“If you have a voice you want to use it by all means,” Cockburn said his Zoom call with reporters. “I try to use my voice on Instagram, on Twitter as much as I can but people are hurting. Put yourself in their shoes, like what if that was happening to you or your family member, you would want to speak out against it. I feel like it’s really big what people are doing right now, trying to get justice.”
Cockburn has been back on campus for nearly two weeks, after announcing he was withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration. Cockburn said he talked with Ayo Dosunmu about his plans, about a week before making his final decision. Dosunmu indicated then he was seriously thinking about coming back, which certainly influenced Kofi.
“My main interest is basically winning,” Cockburn said. “To come back, win a national championship with these guys, it’s a great group of guys and I cherished every moment with them last year. And just that connection I have with my team, it made my decision way easier. It’s just about winning, coming back and solidifying our spot as a top program and getting better as a team and going out there and proving people wrong.”