One of the things I feel obligated to address on this blog is the way in which LeBron James is not afraid to speak his mind and stand up for what he believes in. In a recent interview with CNN's Don Lemon, James talked about his I Promise School, his future with the Los Angeles Lakers, and how he feels about the direction of our country as a whole. While some athletes prefer to shy away from topics surrounding politics and social justice, James has embraced his celebrity status to shed light on issues that he finds to be important, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
While I don't think every athlete should feel obligated to speak their mind, I think it is awesome that James has felt this moral responsibility. Millions of Americans look up to him, especially young African Americans. To them, he represents the American Dream and all that it stands for. In a divisive time in our country, James has been a beacon of hope and light, reminding us that goodness and decency can still be found in the United States of America.
What I think is most impressive about James is his long-term vision. He understands that he can do so much more than just win NBA championships. He can build a legacy that truly lasts if he is willing to give back to his community, stand up for what he believes in, and do his part to be an instrument for change.
The I Promise School is just one example of that. With this school, at-risk children in his hometown Akron, Ohio and the surrounding areas will get a chance to get an education that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Even though he himself didn't go on to college, James still values the importance of an education. He has talked in the past about how much it meant for him to graduate from high school and he wants to make sure that other children get the same opportunities that he got.
Given that he is on the path to becoming a billionaire, it would be easy for James to forget about his roots and spend his time doing other things. He doesn't have to be doing any of this and yet he recognizes how much of an impact he can have on his community and beyond. When you really step back and think about it, it is amazing what James is doing.
Some argue that James should stick to building schools and other philanthropic projects without weighing in on political matters, but remaining silent about such things would be inconsistent with his larger mission. James isn't just about building schools. He's about molding minds and affecting the social conscious of this country. If he were to remain silent about issues regarding race and social justice, he would be failing to accomplish what he feels is his most important job.
Regardless of who you are, when LeBron James says something, you listen. When he calls out certain people for the way they behave, you listen. You may not like what he says, but you damn sure heard what he said and that is precisely why he's saying it. He's a voice for those who don't have a voice. That's powerful beyond anything that can happen on a basketball court.
Whether you love LeBron James on the court or not, one cannot deny the power of his actions and the force that he is for good off the court. While Michael Jordan will probably go down as the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, LeBron James will undoubtedly go down as having left a bigger legacy. So many guys say they want to prepare themselves for life beyond basketball, but LeBron James is actually doing it. He recognizes the impact he can have as an NBA superstar and is doing all he can to leverage that status for the betterment of society. It is awesome.
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