For Joe Haden, it's a personal issue. The Cleveland Browns cornerback grew up with a younger brother who suffers from language and speech difficulties.
As Haden tells ESPN's Steve Wulf, "He's just a really cool kid, a blessing to me and my family. I play for him, and I would do anything for him."
That's why Haden became involved with the Special Olympics as a Global Ambassador, and it's why he's involved with the awareness initiative "Spread The Word To End The Word" -- a campaign to end use of the "R-word" when discussing disabled individuals.
A cornerstone of the "Spread The Word" initiative is its emphasis on youth leadership -- empowering those leaders to call out offensive language and hold their peers accountable for their treatment of all classmates, including their disabled peers.
It's a problem that hasn't been scrubbed from the sports world. Twice since 2011, LeBron James has used the R-word in interviews with media.
Haden, who now plays in the same city as LeBron, is aware of the comments -- but believes they were learning experiences for the NBA star.
"Besides, there are other lessons to learn," Haden tells ESPN. "I would encourage him, or anyone, to go to a Special Olympics event.
"That's where you'll see the pure joy of competition, a joy we should all remember, no matter how big we get."
Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard is also a Global Ambassador, and last year he called out a Twitter troll for mocking a Special Olympics competitor: