NBA legend LeBron James is earning praise off the court for working in conjunction with his hometown school district to create a unique elementary school for at-risk students.
In addition to speaking out about the importance of education, he has also made several public statements about the social implications he sees in Trump-era America.
During a recent CNN interview that touched on both topics, James told host Don Lemon that he believes President Donald Trump is attempting to “divide” the nation, specifically through sports-related rhetoric.
“What I’ve noticed over the past few months (is) he’s kind of used sports to kind of divide us,” he said. “And that’s something that I can’t relate to.”
When Lemon pressed him to address the possibility that he would seek public office after he retires, James remained coy until the host presented a hypothetical scenario in which “Trump’s going to win” unless he runs.
“Well, in that case I may,” James replied. “I believe there’s someone else out there. I hope.”
Though much of Trump’s criticism has been aimed at the NFL, James said he felt moved to speak out against what he sees as a schismatic president.
“I can’t sit back and say nothing,” he told Lemon, going on to note the important role sports played in giving him exposure to diversity of thought and culture.
“Sports was the first time I was ever around someone white,” he said. “I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them, and they got the opportunity to learn about me.”
James said he thought about those early experiences and some subtle differences he saw between the way his “white friends” lived and the way his parents raised him.
“For me, everything where I grew up was on top of the refrigerator,” he said, contrasting that experience with the pantries favored by white families he knew.
It was in hopes of extending the opportunities he has enjoyed to the next generation that James invested millions of his own money into the Akron, Ohio, educational initiative.
James said the “I Promise School” is aimed at making sure “every kid that walks through this school” will be inspired and leave with “something where they can give back.”
More than the supplies and curriculum, the father of three said he wants kids to realize that someone cares about them.
“For kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares,” James said. “And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.”
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