LeBron James shared his thoughts about Muhammad Ali on Friday with ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Although Ali hadn't passed yet, James words were poignant and touched upon Ali’s commitment to social issues and injustice.
“When I was a kid, I was amazed by what Ali did in the ring,” LeBron told Broussard. “As I got older and started to read about him and watch things about him, I started to realize what he did in the ring was secondary to what he meant outside of the ring—just his influence, what he stood for.”
“The reason why he’s the GOAT is not because of what he did in the ring, which was unbelievable,” James said. “It’s what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for, along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor—obviously, who became Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]—Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He’s part of the reason why African Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We’re free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It’s because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that.”
James has also been outspoken when it comes to social issues and injustice. In his hometown of Akron, Ohio, he’s worked to provide programs for children and the underserved. His most vocal stance came when Trayvon Martin was killed and he led the Miami Heat to remember Trayvon by wearing hoodies before a game.