Samaria Rice, whose 12-year-old son, Tamir, was shot and killed by Cleveland-area police in November 2014, has criticized LeBron James for not speaking out against Tamir’s death, especially after the officers who shot him were indicted on Dec. 28.

Brandon Tierney has “buckets of sympathy” for Rice and her family, but he thinks calling out James is “so inherently unfair” to the Akron native.

Tiki Barber, a former athlete, agrees – but he sees both sides of the coin.

“I think it’s tough to force an athlete to care about a situation like this – or any situation,” Barber said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “This one seems especially tragic, so you would think it would be a great moment for the family if LeBron James would do something and speak out on behalf of the family. But I think a lot of that happens when an athlete, or anyone of influence, feels a direct connection – whether it’s something that they had experienced similar in their life, whether they had a relationship with that person, whatever it may be – that causes them to speak out. So to criticize someone for not doing it, it’s a little bit of a reach.”

Still, Barber understands why Rice feels the way she does.

“LeBron came back to Cleveland – and Ohio in general – and basically felt like the savior,” Barber said. “‘I’m going to help this city. I’m going to help Northern Ohio and I’m going to be here for all of you guys, both on the court and off.’ Sometimes people buy into that and think of it as an actuality, like he’s actually going to help me, even though he’s really talking metaphorically. So this feels like a slight, even though it’s really not. It’s up to LeBron to determine when and if he will find a way to support this cause or speak out against the police in this Tamir Rice situation. . . . But you got to be careful about this situation if you’re trying to force someone of influence to take a side on something.”

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