Cordia basketball players respond to photos at center of racial controversy

CORDIA, Ky. (WYMT) - Controversy enshrouds some mountain basketball players and their community after what some are calling racist pictures were posted on the internet.

Emmanuel Owootoah and Marlon King are among several black players at Cordia High School who transferred from Canada.

Last week several photos - including one of a Canadian flag with a noose on it - began appearing on social media web sites.

"I was shocked," King said. "It didn't really affect me in a negative way. I just looked at it and saw it and laughed. I wasn't used to it because none of that stuff happened in Canada."

Both players said the pictures are not affecting the way they play.

"At the end of the day we just go out there on the court and we play our game," Owootoah said. "Because at the end of the day what happens on the court stays on the court."

Someone used a pellet gun Saturday night to shoot a door at a home near the school where the players spend a lot of time. But police said they have no evidence at this point to suggest the crime was racially motivated.

Police are also looking for the person who smashed a mailbox at the home of Eduardo Flores, who is the legal guardian for Owootoah and King.

"I did three tours in Iraq to defend our constitution," Flores said. "I am 100 percent for America's values. It just seems to me that we are lacking those values in this situation."

The players said they still love eastern Kentucky.

"It's great, the support we get from the community and fans," Owootoah said. "At our last game they made cut-out posters of us. They had so much stuff going on for just one game and it was amazing because we had never seen anything like that back home."

Alice Whitaker is a guardian to one of Cordia's other black players. Her aunt also founded the Cordia School.

"He had felt so comfortable here and so welcomed here because we love him and all the kids," Whitaker said. "And to have that happen...I'm sure that he felt that he was singled out because he's black."

WYMT left a message with the Knott County Board of Education requesting comment, but as of seven p.m. Wednesday our call had not been returned.

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