Two high school football players were kicked off the team following their protest during the national anthem Friday night.
Cedric Ingram-Lewis raised his fist as his cousin Larry McCullough knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Victory & Praise Christian Academy played Providence Classical, according to the Houston Chronicle.
When the anthem ended, coach Ronnie Mitchem, a veteran who served as a Marine and started the school’s football program six years ago, asked the players to take off their uniforms and dismissed them from the team.
"He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated," Ingram-Lewis told the Chronicle about what Mitchem said after the anthem. "He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there."
Mitchem had instructed players previously not to kneel, citing his military service. He suggested players could kneel after scoring a touchdown, or that they could write and hand out a flyer about the issues.
"Like I said, I'm a former Marine. That just doesn't fly, and they knew that. I don't have any problem with those young men. We've had a good relationship. They chose to do that, and they had to pay for the consequences,” Mitchem said.
Ingram-Lewis’s mother Rhonda Brady supports her son and nephew and was surprised by Mitchem’s decision.
"I'm definitely going to have a conversation, because I don't like the way that that was handled," Brady told the Chronicle. "But I don't want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn't have done anything like that. Actions speak louder than words. So, for him to do what he did, that really spoke volumes, and I don't want my kids or my nephew to be around a man with no integrity."