“Stick to Sports” is one of the worst memes there is, not only because it’s a deflection from whatever the actual discussion is. If the athletes took that advice, people would suffer. Many actually are actually striving to make the world a better place, and we at Dime want to shine the spotlight on them and continue to ask them: please, don’t stick to sports.
When LeBron James spoke together with fellow NBA superstars Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade at the ESPYS in 2016, his words might have been lost in the moment. They were powerful at the time and worthy of headlines, but as with most things in the news cycle, something else was bound to come up.
It’s worth taking a moment to read what LeBron said.
We all feel helpless and frustrated by the violence. We do. But that’s not acceptable. It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change. It’s not about being a role model. It’s not about our responsibility to the tradition of activism. I know tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali. The GOAT. But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves. It’s for these issues. Speak up. Use our influence. And renounce all violence. And most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.
We all have to do better. Thank you.
Those words embody the vision of the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF). LeBron doesn’t just donate money or time; he does with a view of trying to build up communities. Watch any Cleveland Cavaliers game, and you’ll see LeBron James is wearing a bracelet. If you could see it closely, you would see the words “I Promise” written on it.
“I Promise” is a commitment that LeBron makes to more than 1,200 “at risk” students identified by Akron public schools.
Their promise to him includes a list of things, including going to school, doing their homework, making good choices, never giving up, and above all, to finish school. They can recite the promise by heart. His promise to them is that he will be a good role-model and that if they keep their promise, his foundation and The University of Akron has committed to them a free college education. But this is more than just a scholarship program, and to view it as such would be to sell it short. It quite literally changes lives because it doesn’t just ask kids to make empty promises, it helps them to fulfill it.
In fact, the kids take these promises so seriously, their parents will warn them, “If you don’t keep your promise, we’re going to tell LeBron!” And the kids get in shape faster than if Santa was making a list and checking it twice.