INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – While his impact in turning the Cavaliers back into an NBA title contender continues to go unnoticed by basketball writers on MVP ballots, LeBron James’ work in the community has not.
On Sunday James was named the recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award for his work off the court in the community by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
“LeBron James’ efforts to help young people are exemplary,” PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel said. “He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award.”
Through his LeBron James Family Foundation, James has helped over 1,100 at-risk youth in Akron through his ‘I Promise’ program which encourages students to stay in school, graduate high school and receive a college education.
“It means a lot,” James said Sunday of the award. “I do so much for my community and my foundation does a great job of giving families and kids and youth the opportunity to better their lives, better their futures.
“It’s definitely an award that not only myself and my foundation but all of my kids in my program and all the people that look up to me, it’s their award for sure.”
James’ foundation has partnered with the University of Akron to ensure opportunities for higher education for kids in the program, pledging 4-year scholarships to those that successfully complete the program, as well as a recent partnership with Akron Public Schools to create a new ‘I Promise School’ for students in his program.
Since his return to Cleveland, James has expanded his philanthropic efforts beyond education.
James keeps in touch with students in his foundation’s programs, assists families in need by buying groceries for the students and their families, supplies school uniforms and arranges various outings so that children can be exposed to new experiences.
“It’s all about trying to figure out what’s the most important impact you can make,” James said. “Once we started shifting the bike-athon into educational, seeing that these kids needed help with that particular time in their lives in the third grade and started making it more about that and not only helping the kids but helping the parents as well, that’s when it became more impactful because it could help these kids later on in life.”
James is the fourth Cavalier to receive the award joining Austin Carr (1979-80), Eric Snow (2004-05) and Luol Deng (2013-14).
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph were also finalists for this year’s award.