How LeBron James Has Inspired Change On and Off the Court

Photo Courtesy: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Serena Williams — once in a while, a superstar athlete comes along to captivate fans, inspire new generations and attain household-name status. Their sheer athleticism, accomplishments and larger-than-life personalities are unparalleled, and they become cultural institutions thanks to the skills they’ve devoted their lives to sharpening. But what happens when you combine that performance, tenacity and success with a drive to champion what’s right and improve people’s lives? You get LeBron James.

Despite sharing similarities with other iconic athletes, LeBron James is one of a kind. From the start of his professional career, which began just after he graduated high school, the basketball prodigy has had a spotlight shining down on him. Controversies involving James have ranged from whether or not professional athletes should have mandatory time in college to comparisons with Michael Jordan and how an athlete of his caliber should act on and off the court. The media has made many attempts to paint James in a negative light, but he knows that his actions speak louder than his words. 

James is famous for his fearlessness and team-first mentality on the basketball court, but he doesn’t leave them in the locker room after the final buzzer sounds. Instead, he applies these principles to his real-world efforts to spark political and social change and to help vulnerable communities better themselves. And unlike other big names in sports, James has shown he’s consistently willing to stand up, speak out and get hands-on with contentious issues like a true activist. If his current off-court conduct is any indication, this basketball superstar isn’t going to "shut up and dribble" anytime soon — and there are so many reasons why he shouldn’t.