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Father reacts to racial slur yelled during high school basketball game

A student can be heard yelling the word "gorilla" to a player on the court at Capital High School in Olympia.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A father from Lacey is telling his story after a racial slur was yelled at his son during a high school basketball game on Friday.

Qayi Steplight's son is a student at River Ridge High School in Lacey. The school's basketball team was playing the team at Capital High School in Olympia on Jan. 14, when Steplight says, a student yelled out a racial slur at his 16-year-old son.

The video shows a student audibly yelling out expletives and the word "gorilla."

"This has to be taken on, full head," Steplight said.

Steplight said he did not see the video until after the game when one of the students yelling out posted the video online, according to Steplight.

"He tagged Ahmari in the video because they wanted him to see what they were saying about him," Steplight said.

When his son showed him the video, Steplight said he felt compelled to explain to his son that what was yelled out was not just simple taunting.

"Those are words that they use to describe black people when they want to be derogatory, and I had to explain to him, this is something more than just basketball," Steplight said.

He said it took him back to his own moments facing racism when he was a teenager.

"I've been called monkeys and gorillas. I've been called a lot of different names. So it was like deja vu and I was frustrated that my son had to deal with that," Steplight said.

Superintendent of the Olympia School District, Patrick Murphy, posted a statement online Wednesday, saying the incident was investigated and discipline was issued. The student who was heard yelling the racial slur was not specified.

Murphy's statement added in part, "it is incumbent upon me to work with our school leaders and staff to ensure that when student actions cause harm, there is accountability, learning and an opportunity to restore and make amends with those who have been hurt."

The full statement from the school district can be read here.

Steplight, meanwhile, posted the student's video on his own Facebook page to bring attention to what happened.

"Everybody's equal. If I poke you and you poke me, we both bleed red. So if they can't get on board with that, then they shouldn't play," he said.

Steplight said he has talked with Capital High School's principal and athletic director, who have both apologized to him but has not yet heard from the superintendent nor the student who yelled out, according to Steplight.

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