Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and business partner Maverick Carter sends $2.5 million in support to the Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change exhibit, honoring the life of the boxing giant at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The duo sent their donation through their foundation and is listed as one of the founding donors to the museum along with NBA superstars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and wife, who donated $5 million and $1 million, respectively.
“Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring — what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor,” James told USA TODAY Sports.
It was in June, between Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals between Cleveland and Golden State, when Ali died, and James showed his deep admiration for the boxing great. “As a kid I gravitated towards him because he was a champion, but I only knew as a kid of what he did inside the ring. As I got older and I started to be more knowledgeable about the sport, about sport in general and about the guys who paved the way for guys like myself,” James said then.
On the other hand, museum founding director Lonnie Bunch expressed gratitude with James’ gesture. “His support will help us to continue the story of Muhammad Ali and will encourage athletes to realize how important athletics is in terms of social justice,” Bunch said.
“It’s also really important that actions like this by Mr. James encourage younger athletes and people with means to recognize the philanthropy and paying homage to those who went before, how crucially important that is,” he furthered.
Looking at his philanthropic portfolio, James also invests a lot on kids’ education through various programs. The basketball superstar is said to be very involved with helping the kids and their parents establish their bright future, proving that besides his hard-court legacy is this off-court achievement.