Racing legend Lewis Hamilton has gone on-record to say that he was racially abused while at school. Hamilton, who is now 38, would’ve attended school in the mid-1990s and would’ve carried around the after effects for over 25 years and into his personal and professional life.
Formula One has previously had a reputation as being a ‘rich man’s sport’, with its famous tracks in places like Monaco and Saudi Arabia. Thankfully, the sports brand is doing more, and Hamilton has always been a shining light of hope for those who didn’t come from the upper-classes.
The Mercedes driver said the abuse significantly contributed to ‘’probably the most traumatizing and most difficult part of my life".
Hamilton went on to recall bananas being thrown at him by his fellow schoolchildren, along with being bombarded with several racial slurs during his upbringing in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the young Hamilton was also racially abused at his racing club, where he was the only black child there.
The seven-time World Champion described feeling isolated at school, saying ‘’"When you go into history classes and there are no people of colour in the history they were teaching us. I was thinking, 'Where are the people who look like me?'
Hamilton’s talent and dedication to training likely kept him even further away from socialising - further increasing his sense of exclusion.
As we all know, however, it was the bullied and racially-taunted school child who went on to have the last laugh, as Hamilton is now one of Britain’s finest-ever sportspeople and among the best Formula One drivers of all-time. He may have had a rough 12 months in terms of on-track events, but his status as a legend will never be disputed.
Only a few months ago, Hamilton was on the receiving end of a racially-charged comment by fellow-driver Nelson Piquet. People can critique his poor season all they want, but crossing over into racial abuse is where most will rightly draw the line.
I fully stand with Lewis Hamilton after his admissions and I must commend him for being so open about his upbringing. He may be Britain’s richest sportsperson and the highest-paid driver in F1 history, but let’s not forget about the nonsense Hamilton had to put up with to get there.
Sir Lewis Hamilton is a national treasure, and his place in the annals of sporting history has long been established.
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