Brandon Perkins, Staff Writer

LeBron James is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. However, what about the idea of LeBron being one of the most iconic athletes to ever live? Sounds like a strong title to live up to but LeBron James is doing just that. Since Muhammad Ali dominated the boxing world, there hasn’t been a superior athlete with such strong political, social and economic beliefs. What sets LeBron apart from the pack is that he is not afraid to speak up on hot button issues and he sees athletes’ place in society as more than just an area of entertainment. LeBron James is one of the only athletes in recent memory to show his connectivity with the community rather than distancing himself. LeBron’s community work is starting to outpace his NBA work.

When LeBron James went straight from high school to the NBA, the hype was massive. I was in middle school at the time and it’s all we were talking about. Before LeBron James played a single game, he had a massive shoe deal with Nike, unheard of at the time. To no surprise, LeBron was drafted No. 1 overall in the draft and has dominated the league since his very first game. I can remember watching as a kid and not being able to believe this was a kid, to me he looked like a 30-year old man and not an 18-year old kid. To see a kid come into the league and instantly play competitively with the likes of Kobe, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan to name a few was inspiring.

LeBron understands the importance of education despite himself not getting a college education. James recently opened a school in Cleveland, the I Promise Academy. How many athletes can you recall opening their very own school? It’s been reported that the students are already excelling. He realizes the impact that he has on children and rather than being a stereotypical athlete, he also invests in the future of children. LeBron James is constantly looking for ways to give back to his community to his success can have a positive benefit throughout the entire community.

Another aspect of LeBron’s life that sets him apart from other athletes and entertainers is the fact that he has never been involved with any damaging scandal or criminal activity. LeBron seem to live his life as a motto citizen. However, LeBron’s loyalty to his wife and friends is another aspect that must be mentioned. LeBron married his high school sweetheart and the two have three children together. Throughout history when individuals make it to a certain level of success, they seemingly forget about the ones from their past who helped them get to that point. LeBron is breaking this stereotype. LeBron has remained tight with his childhood friends despite his success. Rather than getting a new circle of friends upon the new-found success, LeBron hired his friends. Many of LeBron’s business personnel are the same people he grew up with. LeBron realizes his economic power and is passionate about changing the lives of those who he has come up with.

LeBron is never one to bite his tongue. He speaks up on issues many in his position refuse to. Recently on his show “The Shop,” he made comments that the NFL has a slave-like mentality. Once mainstream media got a hold of it, they attempted to make LeBron James back down from what he said. However, LeBron James held steady and stated his beliefs along with facts. Once, Fox reporter Laura Ingram said in a newscast that he should shut up and dribble. LeBron James took these comments from the reporter and made it an entire documentary series. James continues to show support of people who have died due to senseless violence. Most recently LeBron spoke up about the murder of Nipsey Hussle.

The two had become close since James moved to Los Angeles. They were set to work together before Nipsey’s untimely death. LeBron willingness to speak about issues that heavily affect the black community makes him a hero. Other athletes like Jordan, Kobe, Shaq and Ken Griffey Jr. have dominated their given sport and position. The difference is none of these athletes were willing to speak up against injustice and what is right in the same way LeBron has. LeBron’s bravery and unwillingness to be silenced is an example of courage to all Americans. His treatment of the ones most important to him is also a point many can learn from.