LeBron James to Receive NAACP Jackie Robinson Sports Award – Bleacher Report
Jason Miller/Getty Images
February 1, 2017
The Cavs’ official website passed along the news and noted portions of the pregame ceremony will also appear during the 48th NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, Feb. 11. The release stated the award is bestowed on a sports figure for “high achievement in athletics and contributions in the pursuit of social justice, civil rights and community involvement.”
James will become the first athlete in almost two decades to receive the honor, according to the official announcement. Other solo sports stars to receive the high-profile award include Anita DeFrantz, Jim Brown, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Sugar Ray Leonard, Eddie Robinson and Michael Jordan.
The 32-year-old Akron, Ohio, native has been in the spotlight for nearly half his life. The King James phenomena started in high school, when his St. Vincent-St. Mary games were broadcast nationally, and he’s made a massive impact on and off the court since.
His basketball resume is already among the greatest in NBA history. He’s won four Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals to go along with 13 All-Star Game appearances and 10 All-NBA first team selections.
The 2003 first overall pick ranks seventh in career win shares for the regular season, the highest of any active player, and tops the win-share list for postseason performance, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Away from the court, he’s established the LeBron James Family Foundation, which lists its mission as working to “positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. We believe that an education and living an active, healthy lifestyle is pivotal to the development of children and young adults.”
In August 2015, James and the University of Akron announced a partnership to put as many as 2,300 Akron kids through college as part of the I Promise Program, one of the foundation’s numerous community initiatives in Northeast Ohio.
The two-time Associated Press Athlete of the Year has also taken a leading role in the fight for social justice by using his status as a global sports icon to send a message of activism.
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT,” James said. “But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence and, most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them. We all have to do better.”
On Tuesday, James posted a message on social media about Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers:
LeBron James @KingJames
HBD to the original king. You paved the way for all of us. #Pioneer #ThankYou https://t.co/dQnD8o5SRH
James and the Cavaliers are scheduled to host the T-Wolves for a national broadcast on ESPN starting at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. It’s unclear whether the network plans to air the award ceremony.
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