This year has been filled with uncertainty and social unrest, but throughout it all, LeBron James has continued to use his platform for the greater good while excelling in the game of basketball. For that reason, he has been named a recipient of 2020 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award — an honor that celebrates one’s sportsmanship and its effect on the world.
The NBA season was cut short after ballers were diagnosed with COVID-19, but when it resumed in the form of the bubble, the basketball league and its players decided to bring attention to social justice issues via their jerseys and messages on the end zone. James, in particular, capitalized on post-game interviews to speak about police brutality and demand justice for slain victims Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, he joined his colleagues in boycotting their playoff games and helped to create social justice plans that would address racial inequality and the unwarranted killings of Black victims.
Amid his dedication and work toward social justice reform, the NBA star remained committed to the actual sport of basketball, leading the LA Lakers to a championship win — a victory Barack Obama even celebrated.
“Proud of my friend @KingJames for his fourth title, fourth Finals MVP and for not only living up to the hype after seventeen seasons, but surpassing it as an extraordinary leader both on the court and in the public arena fighting for education, social justice and our democracy,” the former president said.
James is slated to receive this year’s Sportsperson of the Year award alongside fellow recipients Breanna Stewart, Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.