AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Philadelphia Flyers' forward Justin Bailey is now throwing his support behind a 17-year-old hockey player, Roshaun Brown-Hall, who was racially taunted while playing a game on January 20th.
Bailey is a Buffalo native who previously played with the Buffalo Sabres.
"It is really sad, honestly. To me when I read it, my stomach flipped a little bit,' said Bailey during a phone conversation with 7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly.
The taunting incident happened when Roshaun Brown-Hall's team, the Amherst Knights 18-U, were playing the Cheektowaga Warriors.
Video taken during the game captured the Cheektowaga team calling Roshaun Brown-Hall, the only African-American on the Amherst team, a "monkey" and making monkey-like noises.
"No kid should have to go through that. No kid should have to worry about going to the rink or playing a game and thinking about anything but playing a sport that they love," added Justin Bailey.
The young player's family filed complaints after the taunting but no disciplinary action was taken for nearly two months - until after Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, Roshaun's father, went public with his concerns about the lack of a proper investigation.
Fallout from that resulted in the suspension of the assistant coach and two players for the Cheektowaga Warriors.
It is also led to the resignation of the regional president of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association.
"I think there comes a point in time when you have to put your foot down, especially nowadays when the emphasis is on everybody being equal," commented Bailey.
Bailey also played for the Amherst Knights for about ten years as a child and teenager.
The hockey pro said the taunting incident brought back memories of when he was a young hockey player and heard comments as a teenager.
"There would be little comments or something about race, and for me, it was a little crazy."
Diversity is getting better in hockey, said the 23-year-old NHL player, who encourages all young hockey players of color to "not give up" because of the racist actions of others.
Justin Bailey said he plans to call Roshaun Brown-Hall to offer encouragement and talk to him about the incident.
"I want him to know that I have been through some of the stuff that he has been through. I've never been through anything to the extent that he has but I want to let him know that I am here for him."