Former President Barack Obama joined Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry onstage Tuesday to tell young minority boys: “You matter.”
The pair spoke in Oakland, Calif. to mark the fifth anniversary of Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which was launched to support youth violence prevention efforts and mentorship for young boys and men of color.
“We had to be able to say… ‘You matter, we care about you, we believe in you and we are going to make sure that you have the opportunities and chances to move forward just like everybody else,” Obama said of the initiative’s founding, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The program, which involves over 50,000 mentors nationwide, was launched in the wake of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.
Curry, an ambassador for My Brother’s Keeper, and the former president spoke at the town hall-style event about issues affecting young men and boys of color in the U.S., including masculinity, law enforcement and self-confidence.
Curry spoke about the importance of his parents’ support in helping him become the NBA star he is today, despite low self-confidence as a child.
“The swagger that you see on the court right now, it wasn’t always there. It was a constant struggle,” he said, according to the Chronicle.
Obama also encouraged those listening to stay true to themselves.
“If you are really confident about your financial situation, you’re probably not going to be wearing an 8-pound chain around your neck,” the former president said. “If you’re very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have eight women around you twerking.”
Singer John Legend was also featured at the conference, as well as Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), who was inspired to run for office after her son was shot and killed.
Obama and Curry have become close in recent years and are known to spend time on the golf course and elsewhere together. The former president stopped at the barbecue restaurant owned by the NBA player’s wife, Ayesha Curry, on Presidents Day.
Curry and Obama teamed up in April 2016 to film a promotional videoabout mentorship for the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.