The Associated Press announced Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James as the 2020 Male Athlete of Year. James has now won the award for a fourth time, tying Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods for the most among male athletes since it was first given out in 1931.
The organization acknowledged the 16-time All-Star’s fourth NBA title won with the Lakers in the Orlando bubble last season. But AP additionally emphasized James’ off-the-floor deeds, including efforts to make voting accessible to members of minority groups and investments in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
The Lakers star told the AP he hoped to continue inspiring future generations with his actions stretching beyond basketball:
“I still know what I do on the floor and obviously, I give everything to the game,” James told AP. “But I can make a greater impact off the floor right now, more than I can on the floor. And I want to continue to inspire people with the way I play the game of basketball. But there’s so many more things that I can do off the floor to help cultivate people, inspire people, bring people together, empower them.”
The award is yet another recognition James has received this year. Earlier this month Sports Illustrated named him their “Sportsperson of the Year” as well as awarded him the Muhammad Ali Legacy honor for his social activism initiatives.
Among them, James launched the More Than A Vote organization that aimed to combat voter suppression and help convert many sports arenas, including Dodger Stadium and Staples Center, into polling places ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election.
James was also involved in seeking reassurances from NBA owners that they would take a more proactive role in advancing the push for social justice during heated conversations over the NBA restart’s fate in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting.
James headlines ESPN Top-100 list
Capping off his extraordinary season, James managed to reclaim the top spot on ESPN’s annual Top-100 player ranking heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo dethroned James last year but now fell to the third spot with Anthony Davis leapfrogging the Greek forward after winning his first NBA title with L.A.
Four other Lakers received the recognition: Montrezl Harrell (No. 76), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (77), Dennis Schroder (79), and Marc Gasol (96).
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