Is LeBron James, the Next Great African-American Leader?

LeBron James talking with Jimmy Fallon

“If you don’t stand for something, then you’ll fall for anything.”

I remember growing up and sitting in my room, watching sports, having my father barge in the door, and begin to tell me those words. He would go on for minutes about how there was so much injustice in the country and how African-American civilians were treated much negatively than other races. He would frequently teach me about African-American leaders and how much they affected the country for the greater good. 

Then he did something that was even more brilliant, he made me read. Malcolm X, Richard Wright, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Alex Haley all were read in the Moreau house. All of them all played a vital role in our past. Their lives all helped pave the way for different minorities in the United States.

Today in the 21st century African-Americans might not physically be in whips and chains anymore, but we still have to surmount. There are barriers that other races don’t have to think about and that makes our lives much more difficult. But with every hardship comes ease. There might not be leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. anymore, but there are leaders like Barack Obama, Shawn Carter, and yes, even LeBron James.

It’s been said that birds of a feather flock together. James makes no secret about who his closest NBA friends are either. Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade all have a close relationship with James. It’s no surprise why each of them like James has begun to become just as influential as the four-time NBA MVP. 

LeBron James visiting the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

It’s like an old biblical proverb says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” 

Due to the fact that they all are friends, it’s safe to say they’ve all gained wisdom from each other. It’s refreshing to see young African-American males that not only are outstanding father figures but also men that want to make a difference in society and that stand up for social causes. 

The newest news is that LeBron James is partnering with the University of Akron in order to fund over 1,000 college scholarships to children who are a part of the LeBron James Family Foundation. The foundation which James has sponsored for over five years has become a true blessing for children in the inner city. James was a child who grew up in Akron’s inner city and didn’t attend college, is helping to mold lives and make a difference in the world. The students will have to make the requirements in order to get the scholarship and James will cover their four-year tuition starting in 2021.  

But it’s not only James who has done things for the community that he grew up in, his circle of friends have also made tremendous impacts in the United States.  For example, Carmelo Anthony opened up the Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center in his native Baltimore, Maryland in 2006.

Carmelo Anthony in Baltimore peacefully protesting with citizens.
Carmelo Anthony in Baltimore peacefully protesting with citizens. Anthony who is one of the best players in the NBA made an impact even greater than he could off the court by protesting with the community.

The facility serves as a social platform for disadvantaged youth by providing year-round out-of-school-time programming for elementary and middle school students. The children where the development center is located primarily reside in public housing and low-income neighborhoods.

In addition, Anthony played a huge part in creating peace during the death of Freddie Gray. Anthony was seen marching and protesting in the city of Baltimore and was urging the citizens to join him in a peaceful protest. A lot of people were rioting in downtown Baltimore which led to 34 arrests and injuries to more than 15 officers before the national guard was called in to help.

As for Chris Paul, he’s been very charitable as well. Paul had a partnership with Habitat for Humanity where he helped build homes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and New Orleans, Louisana. In addition, he’s also refurbished basketball courts in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. Paul though is mostly notable for leading the Los Angeles Clippers during the Donald Sterling controversy. Paul led a silent protest against the Clippers racist owner which resulted in Sterling losing ownership of the franchise. The Clippers came out in their warmup gear with their shirts inside out to show that they weren’t playing for the Clippers, rather  they were all unified by the single color they were wearing.

As for James’ best friend, Dwyane Wade, he knows a lot about giving back to others and about standing up for social justice. Wade led the Miami Heat who wore hoodies in memory of Trayvon Martin’s death. The Instagram picture said a lot because, in an era where athletes aren’t voicing their opinions often, Wade’s photo said all the words that needed to get said. The Miami Heat stood in their hoodies unified and the photo captivated the nation.

Furthermore, when the 2010 earthquake in Haiti happened, Wade joined forces with Alonzo Mourning and enlisted the help of other athletes from the NBA and NFL including Kevin Durant, Samuel Dalembert, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Michael Vick and Terrell Owens. Together they raised over a million dollars to help fix the recovering country.

They say that iron sharpens iron, and it looks like James friends sharpen each other. The community needs more positive role models and it looks like these four athletes are only setting up the way for the next generation.

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