LeBron James is showing his support for the Smithsonian’s National Museum Of African American History And Culture in a huge way.
The Cleveland Cavs star player has long been a fan of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and he recently made a whopping $2.5 million donation to the NMAAHC’s Ali exhibit. Given his deep admiration for the late cultural icon, the gesture was just as much of an offering as it was an effort to contribute to the preservation of the exhibit.
“Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring — what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor,” James told USA TODAY. The 2016 NBA Champion made the generous donation through his charitable foundation and in partnership with longtime business partner Maverick Carter.
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James has a consistent track record of giving back to his hometown community and many others across the country, a trait NMAAHC director Lonnie Bunch both appreciates and recognizes as important for younger athletes following in his footsteps. “His support will help us to continue the story of Muhammad Ali and will encourage athletes to realize how important athletics is in terms of social justice,” Bunch said. “It’s also really important that actions like this by Mr. James encourage younger athletes and people with means to recognize the philanthropy and paying homage to those who went before, how crucially important that is.”
The NMAAHC officially opened its doors to the public in late September.