Last night, LeBron James became the fourth highest scoring NBA player of all-time, passing none other than Michael Jordan. Tonight, we honor him by highlighting four of the innumerable ways he is leaving an extraordinary legacy off the court too.
Last month during NBA All-Star Weekend, James and the LeBron James Family Foundation brought 23 students from the foundation’s 330 Ambassador program to Charlotte for its annual weekend of community service and career development. In addition to enjoying All-Star Weekend festivities and visiting with James, the students received career advice from the Carolina Panthers and spent time volunteering at Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that donates shoes to those in need.
This past October, James received the Offseason NBA Cares Community Assist Award and a $10,000 grant from the NBA towards his foundation. The NBA honored James with the award for the opening of his I Promise School last summer in Akron, OH, for over 240 third and fourth grade students. The public elementary school also includes a Family Resource Center that provides job and legal support, GED classes, a food pantry and other services for parents and family members of students.
With all the fanfare surrounding James’ I Promise School, some may have forgotten the $42 million worth of scholarships he pledged to the University of Akron in 2015. His gift will help cover the cost of four-year college degrees for approximately 1,000 local students from his foundation’s I Promise program. In addition to opening the school and granting scholarships, LeBron has also donated many millions over the years to other education and youth development organizations around the country, including After-School All-Stars, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Right Moves for Youth.
In 2016, James and his business partner Maverick Carter donated $2.5 million to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. They were joined by numerous other athlete and celebrity donors, including Michael Jordan who donated $5 million. James and Carter’s gift went towards the museum’s “Muhammad Ali: A Force For Change” exhibit, which celebrated Ali’s legacy and efforts to fight social injustice — something James has become increasingly active in over the years too.
From James’ NMAAHC donation to his variety of media productions, including “Shut Up and Dribble,” a three-part docu-series that explores the role of athletes as social activists, and “Kneading Dough,” a video series that seeks to normalize conversations around personal finance, James recognizes the importance of not just giving to underserved communities but also empowering them.
LeBron James, fourth all-time scorer in the NBA, is the definition of what it means to be (much) more than an athlete.