LeBron James, America’s Most Popular Athlete, Is Increasingly Using His Powerful Position To Speak Out Against Racial Inequality

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TOPLINE

Unafraid to make controversial comments in the past, LeBron James has become even more vocal in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of George Floyd, which has sparked 10 consecutive days of protests, demonstrations and riots that have captivated the country.

KEY FACTS

James, who Forbes previously named the World’s Most Powerful Athlete, has a social media reach that is unparalleled among American athletes.

He has 65.7 million followers on Instagram, 46.3 million followers on Twitter, and 23.9 million followers on Facebook.

Last Saturday, James retweeted a compelling speech from rapper/activist Killer Mike and, on Sunday morning, asked, “Why Doesn’t America Love US!!!!!????TOO.”

Throughout this week, he has used multiple Twitter posts to challenge the news media to provide representative coverage of protests that have been peaceful, as opposed to solely broadcasting those that have included looting or rioting.

On Wednesday, James rebuked Drew Brees (who said he “will never agree with players kneeling during the national anthem), by stating “You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee??”

LeBron’s most vociferous criticism was directed at Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who had previously excoriated James for speaking publicly, yet came out in support of Brees on her show Wednesday night.

“We are simply F-N tired of this treatment,” said James, and capped his tweet by adding the hashtag, #ShutUpAndDribbleThisPowerfulBlackManComingFullSteam

Key Background:

In 2018, after James had criticized President Donald Trump in an ESPN interview, Ingraham chastised James. “It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” Ingraham said on her show two years ago. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. …Shut up and dribble.” However, two days ago, with fellow athletes knocking Drew Brees for his comments, Ingraham staunchly defended Brees’ right to speak out and take a controversial stance. “Well, he’s allowed to have his view about what kneeling and the flag means to him,” she told her viewers. “I mean, he’s a person. He has some worth, I would imagine.” Highlighting the hypocrisy and inconsistency in those two statements, James tweeted, “If you still haven’t figured out why the protesting is going on. Why we’re acting as we are is because we are simply F-N tired of this treatment right here! Can we break it down for you any simpler than this right here????” 

Big Number:

$41.8 million: In 2015, James partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ I Promise program who qualify, which is expected to cost approximately $41.8 million. The I Promise School is an elementary scho