LOS ANGELES (AFP) - National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James says a racial slur spray-painted on the front gate of his Los Angeles home shows the level of racism in America but hopes it can move people closer to ending such hatred.
"If this can keep the communication going and shine the light and keep us progressing and not regressing, that's the main thing," he said.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James spoke on Wednesday at Oakland on the eve of the NBA Finals between his defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.
"Being black in America, it's tough," James said. "And we've got a long way to go as a society for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America."
While there was vandalism at his US$20 million (S$27.7 million) home, police reported, James said the most important thing was that his family, which was at their home in Ohio at the time of the incident, was safe.
"My family is safe. That's what's important," James said, saying his wife was handling issues arising from the incident with their children.
"She said everything is fine. That's helps a lot. Time helps a lot. It'll pass. It's fine.
"It puts me back in place on what's most important and basketball is not the most important thing in my life."
Los Angeles police officer Aareon Jefferson said police were called to the house in the upscale Brentwood neighbourhood around 6.45am local time, and by the time they arrived the graffiti had been painted over by property management staff.
The case is being investigated by personnel from the Los Angeles Police Department's West Los Angeles Station.
Public records show that James bought the house in 2015 for just under US$21 million.
"On the eve of one of the greatest events we have in sports, race and what's going on comes again," James said.
"It just goes to show that racism will always be part of the world, part of America, and that hate, especially for African-Americans, is living every day."
Even as James vowed the incident would not throw him off as the Cavaliers try to defend their crown in the best-of-seven Finals series, his thoughts were on his sons and him not being able to be there when they came home from school to talk about it face to face instead of over the Internet.
"The most unfortunate part is that I can't be with my kids right now," James said. "It's kind of killing me right now.
"Hopefully I give them enough life skills that when they get ready to fly, they can fly on their own."
When it comes to the sting of racism and concern for family, even a championship showdown loses its luster.
"I'll be focused tomorrow on the game, on all the games," James vowed. "I'm at a point where my priorities are in place. Basketball comes second to my family and after what I do for my foundation and youth."