“It’s hard to remember a year with such a crowded field of Sportsperson candidates, but in the end LeBron James was the clear choice. It’s not just the way he took over the NBA Finals—though that performance was epic. It’s that LeBron was also carrying the weight of that promise he made when he returned to Cleveland in 2014. It’s a special thing for a favorite son to follow through on that kind of commitment to his hometown. Especially since he doubles down on that commitment off the court, with the work his foundation does for underserved kids in Akron and with his increasing willingness to speak out in the fight for social justice. On court and off, James was the athlete in full in 2016.”
These were the words spoken by Chris Stone, Editor in Chief for Sports Illustrated, as LeBron James was named the 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. James returned back to Cleveland after an illustrious career with the Miami Heat, leading the team to 4 NBA Finals, walking away with 2 Championships. Falling short of the 2014-15 Championship title, LBJ devoted his time and energy into everything he knew Cleveland longed for- a better place for underprivileged children to grow and learn as well as a NBA title.
The LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron, Ohio native partnered with The University of Akron to guarantee four-year scholarships to youth who qualified for James’s Akron I PROMISE Network program, which has provided more than 41 million in scholarship aid to more than 1,100 students in the state of Ohio. His Wheels for Education program, which supports third-grade students in the inner city, monitors these at risk children through high school and college graduation, providing the families with the resources and support they need to pursue their higher educations. Last month, the foundation also announced a $2.5 million donation to the Muhammad Ali exhibit at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History ad Culture, honoring Ali’s legacy as an athlete and activist.
The Cav’s power forward also fulfilled his promise of a championship title for the city now known as Believeland, becoming the first team to come from behind a 3-1 deficit to win the 2015-16 NBA season. James was also awarded the NBA Finals MVP award, adding to his basketball repertoire. Being honored at the Barclays Center on December 12, James will join the likes of Tiger Woods as a two-time recipient of the Sportsman of the Year award, previously being awarded in 2012 after leading the Miami Heat to a NBA title.
LeBron James is far from done with providing leadership and opportunities, on and off the court. LBJ, we applaud you for your continued drive to be a better you while building a better community.