LeBron James is never too busy to help change the world.
The Los Angeles Lakers kick off the NBA playoffs this week from the bubble, playing Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday. But that hasn’t stopped the Kid from Akron from doing what he can to keep the momentum of social change.
James, pointing to his More Than a Vote platform, joined fellow athletes in signing an open letter to ask Americans to help in the fight against voter suppression.
“We are a coalition of Black athletes and artists who came together amid the protests fueled by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police,” the letter posted to The Undefeated begins. “We are focused on systemic, targeted voter suppression in our community and have a specific mission: educate, energize and protect Black voters.”
The letter goes on to lay out several ways the African-American vote is being suppressed and offers some ways people can help assuage the prevailing issues.
The most pressing, according to the letter, is the ongoing pandemic that continues to affect so many in this country.
“Black communities are overwhelmingly more vulnerable than white communities (to COVID). In counties where Black people are the majority, death rates are 3.5 times higher than the national average. Our voting locations must offer safe, socially distanced voting,” the letter continues.
James joins a bevy of other athletes who signed onto the letter, a few of whom are Emmanuel Acho, Ray Allen, Tim Anderson, Odell Beckham Jr., Eric Bledsoe, Skylar Diggins, Allyson Felix, Jason Heyward, DeAndre Hopkins, Alvin Kamara, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Mahomes, Kendrick Perkins, David Price, Jalen Rose, CC Sabathia, Ben Simmons, Kristi Toliver, and Trae Young.
Against the backdrop of a nation dealing with uncertainty as pertains to U.S. Postal Service and the status of mail-in votes, James also joined the Dodgers and pitcher David Price in setting up Dodger Stadium as a polling place for five days for this upcoming election.
“Voting is all of our civic duty, and we’re excited to work with More than a Vote to do anything we can to help get out the vote by making this process as easy, accessible and safe for all Angelenos,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement.
LeBron will also help kick off a show dedicated to addressing socially relevant issues of the day. Cari Champion and Jemele Hill will premiere their new show “Stick to Sports” on Vice TV on Wednesday and James is the first guest.
As to the scope of the show, Champion explained: “I know we're dealing with the racial inequities in our world, but we all put our pants on the same. We all get sick, we all cry, we all love. The goal is to break down that barrier.”
The two were on “Good Morning America” and teased what James might talk about when he joined the tandem on their first episode.
“I think our first guest, he is probably the poster child for 'stick to sports,’” Champion said. “We'll have LeBron James on. He has so many wonderful initiatives happening right now. 'More Than a Vote,' he'll talk about that and what that community is trying to be doing and most importantly what they're expected to do, which is to really talk about voter suppression and stop it. So that's one of our guests for our premiere episode, Robin."
On Monday, a rather inspiring speech came to light. James, on the set of “Space Jam 2” last summer, told the cast and crew that he was very much in awe of where he found himself.
"I’m just a small kid from Akron, Ohio, a very small town outside of Cleveland,” James said at the time, via TMZ. “From a single-parent household, I’m the only child, my mother had absolutely nothing. She was walking around high school when she was 16 years old and she was pregnant with me as a high school sophomore. So, I’m really not supposed to be here. Growing up in the inner city, as an African-American kid, there’s no way you’re supposed to f------ make it out. And, the fact that I’m who I am as an African-American adult now with three kids of my own, and I made it out of the situations that I was in. This s--- is like extra credit for me man."
LeBron remembers where he comes from and knows how hard it is for so many around this country. Entering a pivotal election, James and other athletes are doing all they can to utilize their platform.
LeBron is entering what is sure to be an exhausting and emotionally draining playoff but isn’t about to let up in fighting for what he believes in.