By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — A Dearborn teenager with a passion for hockey recently received encouragement in a personal video from his favorite NHL player following racial taunting on the ice.
Ty Cornett, 13, plays hockey in Plymouth where he has been facing racial harassment during the past year, his father, Matthew Cornett, said in a post on Reddit.
During the past few years, Ty has dealt with the racial abuse from teammates and opposing players as an African American playing a predominantly white sport, according to WJBK Fox 2 Detroit.
Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban learned about the taunting from a father of one of Ty’s teammates on the Plymouth Sting, and he decided to reach out.
On Jan. 4, Subban made at 43-second video to Ty just before Nashville played the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. The following night, the video was sent to Ty via text message, according to the Jan. 7 Reddit post.
“Hey Ty, it’s P.K. Subban here at with the Nashville Predators and I heard about a little bit about you and what you’re going through,” he says in the video. “I can tell you this right now, that as long as you’re still breathing in this world you gotta believe in yourself and let nobody tell you what you can and can’t do especially if it’s because of the color of your skin.
“In this world some things happen that we don’t really understand — that’s OK, we don’t have to understand it. All we need to do is understand ourself and believe in ourself and keep trying and keep pushing forward.
“I just want to tell you that when you’re playing hockey, you play because you love the game and want to play. Let nobody take that away from you, alright, Ty? Hopefully I’ll meet you soon bud. Good luck.”
Cornett told the Detroit News that Ty and all of his other children have been adopted through the foster system in Michigan by him and his wife.
“My wife and I are white,” he said. “So, this is uncharted territory for us. That is why P.K. Subban meant so much to him.”
The Associated Press reported that Ty had asked him for a Subban jersey when he was 6 and wears No. 76 to match his favorite player.
“This year has been tough,” Cornett wrote, according to the AP. “My son is very aggressive and loud, so that brings out the trash talk. I have no problem with trash talking at all (part of the sport), but the racist talk needs to stop. Between the N-word being thrown at him over and over, being called monkey by players and parents, having an entire team beat their chests and act like gorillas whenever he touched the puck.”
Cornett said the video Subban sent to his son is something special.
“This video meant more to my family than anything,” he told the AP. “I think my son has watched it over 500 times (no joke).”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])