LeBron James has been named the Time athlete of the year for 2020.
The 35-year-old won his fourth NBA championship as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA’s Disney World DIS, +0.17% bubble. While James is one of league’s all-time great, his 2020 accomplishments weren’t all on the court.
In June, James launched a nonprofit called More Than a Vote with the goal of increasing voter participation in elections. One avenue: combating voter suppression in communities of color. More Than a Vote helped spark a huge increase in voter registration among his fellow athletes, as well as helping to convert sports arenas around the U.S. into polling places.
James recruited athletes from other sports to help his cause, making NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Odell Beckham Jr. founding members of the organization.
The organization itself didn’t endorse a candidate, but James personally endorsed Joe Biden for president.
James has also founded an elementary school in Akron, Ohio — where he grew up — called the I Promise School, specifically designed for children at risk of not graduating.
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“After nearly two decades in the NBA, James has fully embraced that his talent on the court is a means to achieving something greater off it,” Time writer Sean Gregory wrote in the magazine’s official announcement. “And this year, more than in any before it, he showed why he is unrivaled in both. Despite misgivings, James played in the bubble and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA championship — his first with the team and fourth overall. By staying, James increased his leverage and influence, and got deep-pocketed owners, fellow athletes and fans the world over engaged directly with democracy. And through it all, he spoke personally to the anguish of Black Americans, channeling pain and outrage into a plan of action.”
Time’s naming of its 2020 person of the year is imminent. The finalists include President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden, the Movement for Racial Justice, and Dr. Anthony Fauci and health workers.
The winner is to be announced Thursday night live on NBC.