John Amaechi (6ft 9in NBA Star turned psychologist) claims that he was ‘humiliated” after being ‘privately searched’ at Heathrow Airport. He was told he was too large for security scanners.
- John Amaechi (52), says that he was told he was too big for Heathrow scanners.
- Security staff selected the ex-NBA star for a private, ‘humiliating’ search
- John, the first openly homosexual NBA player. He was furious at the results.
- Heathrow apologized to the former sports star and stated that it was conducting an investigation
After being told that he was too big for security scanners, a furious British basketball star was forced to go through a private search by Heathrow airport staff.
John Amaechi was America’s first openly gay NBA player. He claimed he was randomly selected by security personnel to go through an additional search following an alert.
The 52-year-old retired sportsman-turned-psychologist – who was awarded an OBE in 2011 for his services to sport – was then flagged down again by a second scanner in the first-class security queue at Terminal 5.
Staff blamed the height of the former basketball player (6ft 9ins) for the intimacies search.
However, Mr Amaechi was furious at the excuse. Taking to Twitter, he vented: ‘Just had to go through a “private” search at @HeathrowAirport. First ‘beep’ was “random selection” (almost every time) then another machine gave a “double yellow” (because) – & I quote “you are too big.” Then a private search (with) 2 people. Humiliating to have the machine escorted away. Furious, again.’
John Amaechi, a former British basketball star, claims he was privately searched at Heathrow by staff after being told that he was too big for security scanners
The 52-year-old, who was the first ever openly gay player in the NBA, said he was left humiliated by the incident. He This is him in 2000 when he was with Orlando Magic, Florida.
John claims staff told John he was too big for security scanners. John’s private search led to the discovery of a similar full body scanner at Manchester Airport. Pictured is an identical full body scanner at Manchester Airport
Former England international, who also covered the Olympics for BBC, was born in the USA to a Nigerian mother and a British father. He was raised in Stockport in Greater Manchester.
He took up basketball at the age of 17 and went on to play for five seasons in the NBA, playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz.
John, now a British Airways Director and bestselling author, was about to go to the lounge for a flight from London to Dublin when he encountered a stop and was searched. This was a move that has since caused a row over racism.
Describing the incident, John told the Guardian: ‘I am a 6ft 9in black man standing in security, clearly not able to move on from my free will, and the passengers … are looking at me – like what’s he done? I stood there for 12-15 min. You are then taken into a private area where two men monitor you and search you. This is more intrusive than when you can see other people. I find it absurd that a random buzz can cause such an alarm.
John stated that the two security officers who searched John were both Asians and he said they were ‘polite. But he said: “They were part a system that suggests some people look like they are in trouble, and others don’t.” Heathrow is not responsible for the problem, but Heathrow has the ability to make people more responsive.
Heathrow stated that they have launched an investigation into the incident. People queuing at Terminal 5 where John was stopped are shown in the pictures
Heathrow’s spokesperson apologized to the former basketball star and said they were sorry for their upsetting experience.
After tweeting about Heathrow’s incident, Mr Amaechi was supported by other sports stars. Some accused the airport of racism.
Matthew Pinsent, a white British champion rower, said that he was among them. I have never been selected to do a “private” search at an airport in the UK. I didn’t know they existed.
Dr Leon Black tweeted: ‘This is simply unacceptable, and frankly bullsh*t. How can someone require a private search because they are “too big”? This is a 6’8″ white middle-aged man. I have never been asked to do a “private search.”
Another Twitter user commented: “Same. 6’3” tall white man who has played all kinds of physical sports throughout his adult life. Never been taken off to do a private search.
A Heathrow spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We understand that being called for additional security checks can have an impact on a passenger’s experience at the airport.
These extra checks are never discriminatory and will always be done for security reasons. If necessary, we will invite the passenger into a private area so these checks can occur promptly and in privacy.
“Our goal is to make this process as smooth as possible so that passengers can continue their journey. Heathrow should be a safe place for everyone, regardless of whether they’re a passenger or colleague.