In recent years, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has possibly garnered as much attention for what he’s done off the court as he’s done on it.
James has become one of the most outspoken athletes in recent memory, having no issue voicing his opinion on things many athletes have shied away from. He has been at the forefront of a number of racial issues, speaking out about about the need for change in several settings.
One such instance was during the opening of the 2016 ESPYs when James stood alongside friends Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul to call on change. More recently, James has had no issues speaking directly against President Donald Trump.
James wasn’t always the someone who would speak out against injustices, but some things changed that. On his HBO show “The Shop,” James answered Jon Stewart about how having kids changed his outlook:
“Certain things happened. Things change in your life. Me having my own kids and then seeing the Trayvon Martin thing. It hit home. If I didn’t have any kids at the time, who knows if I would’ve been able to speak up on it because it probably wouldn’t have hit home for me. It wouldn’t have made me feel the same way. At the time, I think my oldest son was nine and my youngest son was six. I can’t imagine sending my kid out and he didn’t return home. Like that. I couldn’t imagine that. Like, that happened. So that’s why I started thinking, ‘OK, if I can get 25,000 people to show up to a basketball game, I can reach so many more platforms when I talk.’”
James has come under a lot of scrutiny for his views and some have compared him to Muhammad Ali. James spoke about dealing with the backlash and not caring about what critics say about him:
“Yeah, because at the end of the day, when I decided I was going to start speaking up and not giving a [expletive] about the backlash or if it affects me, my whole mindset was it’s not about me. I think Ali knew it wasn’t about him; I’m going to get the backlash, I’m going to go to jail. But what this is going to do for the next group, what this is going to do for the next athlete, what this is going to do for the next minority who wants to speak up whenever that happens. Ali’s whole mindset was like, at some point somebody is going to take what I did. And I sensed that. I sensed that on losing this, or losing that, or losing popularity. My popularity went down. But at the end of the day, my truth to so many different kids and so many different people, was broader than me personally.”
Agree with his positions or not, James should be commended for speaking out on these topics and bringing light to subjects that should be discussed in this day and age. James wants to bring people together and by talking about these things, along with the work he does in the community, he is trying to take the necessary steps to do just that.