“I feel like LeBron James is an amazing basketball player, but he's also a community person.” This short description by Chance the Rapper sums up the viewpoint Lebron receives by a large portion of the world. There are few people throughout history who have been capable of fighting through an upbringing like Lebron James, and evolved as not only an athlete, but a human being in totality to become recognized as one of the most selfless figures in the world. Throughout time, Lebron’s intellect has evolved, not only on the court, but with his desire to be remembered as not only a prominent figure in the sport of basketball, but a man who made an impact on the world. Lebron has fought through heavy criticism for going down paths most people choose not to take, rather using it as motivation to fuel his desire to be recognized as not only one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but one of the most prominent social figures as well. Lebron was capable of conquering a difficult upbringing and from this, has become one of the most selfless figures in society, through his various donations and acts of good, not only to the sport of basketball, but the entire world.
Lebron was capable of fighting through a rough upbringing, to become the man he is today. Lebron James was born in “Akron, Ohio, on December 30, 1984” (Ducksters). Throughout his early childhood in Akron, he was forced into an impoverished state of life. He was forced to spend the first portion of his childhood without a true father figure. However, “his basketball coach at the time, Frankie Walker took Lebron under his wing, allowing him to stay with his family” (Ducksters). This was extremely beneficial for Lebron, as this allowed him to transfer his focus from the negative aspects of his life, to his schoolwork and basketball.
Lebron had a dominant high school career, before being forced to make the tough decision of where he wanted to go, either the NBA or college. Throughout Lebrons teenage years basketball slowly became the aspect of his life which he prized the most. He played “Amateaur Athletic Union basketball for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars” (The Famous People), and made the tough choice of attending “St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, a White private school, instead of their local public school” (The Famous People). Lebron picked up a large fanbase as he continued his high school career, leading a below average team to wins over some of the nations best. Eventually, Lebron would finish his high school career with “three state titles, as well as receiving the title of “Mr. Basketball” in Ohio for three consecutive years” (Ducksters). After a dominant high school career, Lebron James made a heavily criticized decision of skipping college to go straight to the NBA, and ended up being the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.
However, 16 years later, Lebron James addressed the reason why he chose to skip college. He said, “That 23 jersey would have been sold all over the place without my name on the back. My body would have been on the 2004 NCAA game. The [arena] would have been sold out every single night. Me and my mom didn’t have anything and we wouldn’t be able to benefit at all from it. The university would be able to capitalize on everything, during the time I would be there for that one year or two years. I understand what those kids are going through and I feel for those kids who've been going through it for so long.” (Will S, Basketball Network). Lebron addressed a problem that NCAA players deserved to be paid for their services. As a five star athlete, and high school superstar, Lebron could have attended any college he desired, however he chose to pursue his career as a professional basketball player without the experience at the college level strictly due to the financial struggles his family was dealing with. Lebron’s statements on this topic have already made an impact. As “The Fair Pay to Play Act,” (Will S, Basketball Network) signed by the State of California will allow college players to begin having their own personal benefits from their time playing at the collegiate level. These players will now be capable of signing endorsement deals, as well as hiring agents. In short, this act will allow players the freedom to endorse their own name, and make profit from it. From a short statement by Lebron James, one of the most commonly criticized aspects of NCAA sports has made an extreme advancement to being solved.
Lebron’s early career in the NBA, shaped him into the unselfish person he is recognized as. After seven years in the NBA, Lebron had begun to shape into a dominant force on the court, however a selfless person who was aware of those around him and some of the rough aspects of their lives. In 2010, when his first contract expired and he became a free agent, Lebron decided to take part in a highly controversial TV event on ESPN special called “The Decision”, solely revolving around which team he would play for in the NBA, once his contract with Cleveland expired. Lebron was reluctant to do it and ended up donating the profits to charity, specifically the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America revolves around the idea of ensuring children are capable of pursuing whatever career they desire, while at the same time growing up with a safe, productive, and positive lifestyle. Various clubs include, “Career launch, which prepares teens for the world of careers and work” (BGCA). Some other clubs include “diplomas2Degrees” (BGCA), a program focused on preparing high schoolers for college, ensuring they graduate, and prepared to pursue a career. There is a large multitude of clubs throughout the BGCA, however they all share a key goal of the welfare of the youth of America. Lebron recognized these clubs, and with his wife, renovated a large amount of classrooms. He donated “1000 new computers to 59 different Boys and Girls Clubs” (Garcia, 2017), and finally, not including the 1000 computers, donated all the profits from his ESPN special, “The Decision”, to these clubs. The profits from the special summited three million dollars, and Lebrons act of selflessness was influential in improving the productivity of these clubs.
In 2004, Lebron founded the Lebron James Family Foundation. The mission of this program is similar to that of the BGCA, Lebron desired to positively affect both children and young adults lives through a fundamental education, and preparation to pursue a career. “We believe that an education and living an active, healthy lifestyle is pivotal to the development of children and young adults” (James, 2006). The LJFF specifically focuses on the upbringing of children in Lebron’s hometown, Akron. As Lebron was raised in Akron, he was highly aware of the poor living conditions a large portion of residents in Akron have. “This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most, those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something” (James). The LJFF constantly is striving to find “research-based interventions” (Evans, 2017), that will keep students in school, as well as staying on track with what they want in their future.
Branching from the “Lebron James Family Foundation”, Lebron has donated to various clubs throughout his NBA career. After-School All-Stars is a foundation started with the desire to support the children in Lebron's hometown, Akron. The program provides mentorship, aiding children with their studies, and supplying children with after school activities as well. The overall goal is to keep kids in school and encourage them to graduate, and attend college. Lebron donated $2.5 million dollars to the Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change boxing exhibit. Lebrons described his reason for donating such a large amount of money was that he viewed Ali as an inspiration to him, not only in athletics, and his drive to be the greatest, but also his impact in society and his constant fight for social justice. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America is where the $3 million dollars from “The Decision” special went. These clubs focus on giving all children an equal chance to become successful in their lives by providing them with school mentoring and activities. The Children’s Defense Fund, which began in 1973, with the purpose of being a voice for children’s rights and ensuring that all children are treated equally. This Foundation focuses on the “5 pillars of life” hunger, health, education, water, and play. This organization is based on donations which provide help to children by focusing on giving them a sense of pride. It provides all the daily necessities including breakfasts in schools, water, medical help, educational help, and activities. By looking at all these charities, and the foundation they all share, the mindset that Lebron has towards the young folk of the world becomes clear, he wants nothing but the best for those who are forced to live without ideal conditions.
Throughout Lebrons time in the NBA, he has evolved into one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and from this left an everlasting impact on the NBA. Once Lebron James retires, he will be remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest basketball player of all time. Throughout his lengthy career, he has demonstrated complete dominance on the court, and still does it today at the age of 35. Not only has Lebron left an impact in the NBA, but he has left an even bigger mark on the entire world through his work in various communities. However, the community who Lebron has specifically focused on, and the community that has felt his generosity more than any other, is his hometown town of Akron. Lebron has donated to various charities that support his hometown, however no act of kindness compares to his most recent gift to this community, the I Promise School. Lebron desired to create a school for the children in Akron who need an “innovative and supportive environment” (Evans, 2017). Lebron hopes, “If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families” (James). This school is specifically meant for those who are put in a situation in which they would never be capable of succeeding. This school provides them with a chance to live a prosperous lifestyle.
Lebron was capable of conquering a difficult upbringing and from this, has become one of the most selfless figures in society, through his various donations and acts of good, not only to the sport of basketball, but the entire world. Lebron was capable of fighting through a rough upbringing, to become the man he is today. Lebron had a dominant high school career, before being forced to make the tough decision of where he wanted to go, either the NBA or college. Lebron’s early career in the NBA, shaped him into the unselfish person he is recognized as. His first large act of selflessness was donating all the money from his “The Decision” to the BGCA. Lebron then set up the “Lebron James Family Foundation'', a foundation which donated to various other charities. The LJFF has donated to various charities throughout its existence, some of which include After-School All-Stars, BGCA, and ONEXONE, with a main focus of the welfare of children. Throughout Lebron’s time in the NBA, he has evolved into one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and from this left an everlasting impact on the NBA. Not only has Lebron left an impact in the NBA, but he has left an even bigger mark on the entire world through his work in various communities.
- “All Programs.” Boys & Girls Clubs of America - Providing Millions of Kids and Teens a Safe Place to Develop Essential Skills, Make Lasting Connections and Have Fun., www.bgca.org/programs/all-programs.
- “Biographies.” Ducksters Educational Site, www.ducksters.com/biography/.“Chance The Rapper Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/chance_the_rapper_858409?src=t_lebron_james.
- Hemingway, Jerry. “This Selfless Act Proved LeBron James Really Is a Good Teammate.” Sportscasting, 25 July 2019, www.sportscasting.com/this-selfless-act-proved-lebron-james-really-is-a-good-teammate/.
- Kelleysthrngrl. “LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools Establish the I PROMISE School.”
- LeBron James Explains Why He Skipped College and Went Directly to the NBA: ‘Me and My Mom Wouldn't Be Able to Benefit at All from It.’” Basketball Network, 1 Oct. 2019, www.basketballnetwork.net/lebron-james-explains-why-he-skipped-college-and-went-directly-to-the-nba-me-and-my-mom-wouldnt-be-able-to-benefit-at-all-from-it/.“
- Lebron James: Five Humongous Charitable Donations │ Black EOE Journal.” Black EOE Journal, 21 Jan. 2019, www.blackeoejournal.com/2019/01/lebron-james-five-humongous-charitable-donations/.
- Rovell, Darren. “LeBron: 'The Decision' Will Generate $2.5 Million For Boys & Girls Club.” CNBC, CNBC, 8 July 2010, www.cnbc.com/id/38154289.“Who Is LeBron James? Everything You Need to Know.”
- Facts, Childhood, Family Life, Achievements, www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/lebron-james-3966.php.