An Orange County mother is speaking out after her son faced racist comments during a Friday night basketball game against Laguna Hills High School.
Sabrina Brown, the player’s mother, posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday in which a person can be heard referring to slavery and shouting “Chain him up” and “Who let him out of his chains”, among other insults . A school district official said the comments came from a Laguna Hills student.
Brown was unavailable for an interview Tuesday night but allowed the Times to use his message.
She said her son, Makai, plays for Portola High School and follows his Saturday morning routine of watching a game movie before practice.
“He walked into my room STUNNED,” Brown wrote in the caption of his Instagram post, which had more than 40,000 views as of Tuesday night. “What he heard 100% directed at him is contained in this video, but these disgusting racial slurs continued throughout the game. Needless to say, our family is angry.
She accused the Laguna Hills boys’ basketball program of fostering “a culture of aggression, unsportsmanlike conduct and RACISM,” adding that the harmful behavior needed to stop.
Brown also accused David Yates, Laguna Hills’ head college basketball coach, of being aggressive and verbally abusive toward his son.
Laguna Hills High is in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and Portola High is part of the Irvine Unified School District.
Superintendent of Saddleback Valley Schools. Crystal Turner condemned the language heard in the video and said officials have taken action.
“After a thorough investigative process that included reviewing all in-game footage and interviewing each person verified to be close to the entrant, it was determined that the unacceptable comments were made by a [Laguna Hills High] student,” she said in a statement.
The student was counseled and disciplined, Turner said. Students who witnessed the incident were informed of their responsibility to “redirect such language” and report it immediately to school administrators.
School officials discussed the incident with players and coaches during practices, Turner said, and student government officials and their adviser discussed how to make changes.
The superintendent did not comment on Yates, but said “appropriate personal actions, although to be kept confidential, have taken place” regarding the Laguna Hills coach.
CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said he was unaware of the video until contacted by The Times.
Wigod said he and his staff would contact the schools but would not be able to impose any penalties or disciplinary action as the game was not part of a playoff series organized by the Southern Section.
He condemned the comments heard in the video and said such language was not acceptable in a game or elsewhere.
Friday night’s incident is among multiple racist outbursts at high schools and sporting events across Orange County in recent years.
In December 2019, a student at Santa Margarita Catholic High School was expelled after sharing a racist video on Snapchat, according to KCAL-TV Channel 9.
In September of that year, racial slurs at a football game hosted by San Clemente High School against Lincoln High School in San Diego sparked an investigation by officials from both campuses.
San Clemente principal Chris Carter wrote in a letter to both school communities that Lincoln students said they were called racial slurs, an investigation confirmed “two people in the restroom used a racial epithet when addressing a Lincoln High School student” and “derogatory remarks” were heard in the stands.
The principal’s letter did not specify whether the insults were uttered by San Clemente students or adult spectators, or whether anyone would be disciplined in connection with the incident.
Lincoln High officials have concluded their own investigation into the allegations, Principal Stephanie Brown wrote in a Facebook post at the time.
“Our students were subjected to anti-African American, anti-LatinX and anti-gay verbal abuse,” she wrote. “African-American students in particular have been urged to return to Africa.”
The investigation also found that San Clemente security guards and staff were ignoring “repeated requests for assistance” from Lincoln students, she wrote.
Times columnist Eric Sondheimer contributed to this report.