A racial epithet was spray-painted on the front gate of LeBron James' home in Brentwood, and the NBA star said he wants to use the incident as a learning experience for his family and others.
The vandalism was discovered about 6:45 a.m. and has since been painted over by the property manager, LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said.
A source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case described the slur as the "N-word."
In a news conference Wednesday, James said his family was safe and that the vandalism revealed how deeply entrenched racism is in this country.
"It goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. Hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living everyday," James said.
He said he thought about the funeral of Emmett Till, an African American teenager brutally murdered in the South in 1955 whose body was visible in an open casket at his mother's request.
"She wanted to show the world what her son went through as a hate crime and being black in America," James said. "No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. And we got a long way to go."
James said it's difficult knowing that he won't see his children back in Akron, Ohio, for another week, where his wife is handling everything. His daughter is too young to understand what happened in Brentwood, but his sons are old enough to know, he said.
"I like to do face-to-face-conversations when it comes to a situation like this," James said of speaking with his sons. "But at the end of the day, they're going to have to walk their own path, and hopefully I give them enough life skills throughout their journey where when they're ready to fly, they can fly on their own."
The 32-year-old superstar acknowledged that he wasn't energetic speaking with the media Wednesday, but said it would pass.
"Time heals all. And at the end of the day, like I said, if this incident that happened to me and my family today can keep the conversation going and can shed light on us trying to figure out a way to keep progressing and not regressing, then I'm not against it happening to us again. I mean it's as long as my family is safe," he said.
James bought the 9,440-square-foot Brentwood estate in 2015. Records show it sold for about $21 million. It was built in 2011 and designed by architect Ken Ungar, The Times reported at the time of the purchase.
Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's West L.A. Division are investigating, Eisenman said.
Police said they would have to determine the motive for the vandalism before deciding whether to classify it as a potential hate crime.
According to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations' 2015 report, the most recent statistics available, 58% of racially motivated hate crimes in the county that year targeted blacks. Vandalism accounted for 29% of all hate crime offenses in 2015, the report stated.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the Bay Area this week, where they'll play the Golden State Warriors in the first game of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.
Staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.
3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from LeBron James.
11:35: a.m.: This article was updated with details on what was written on the gate.
11:15 a.m.: This article was updated with statistics on hate crimes in Los Angeles County.