Although Lebron James is known as an NBA star, he’s been making a name for himself as an athlete who’s concerned with social consciousness, and he’s already impressed one influential figure: the president of the United States.
As flagged by ABC News, President Barack Obama told People Magazine he was pleased that black celebrities were joining the discussion on race and police brutality in response to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.
The president singled out the Cleveland Cavalier for wearing Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” on a t-shirt during warm-ups before playing the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 9.
“I think LeBron did the right thing,” Obama told People. “We forget the role that Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, and Bill Russell played in raising consciousness. I’d like to see more athletes do that — not just around the issue, but around a range of issues.”
James has made headlines before for his stance against racism. In 2012, when he was playing for the Miami Heat, the basketball star got his teammates to wear hoodies and pose for a photo in tribute to Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old who was shot and killed in Florida while walking home from a convenience store.
Two years later, James made strong remarks against racist comments made by the now-former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling.
Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama in the exclusive interview with People, in which they discussed their experiences with racial discrimination. The first lady pointed out that her husband had dealt with racial profiling firsthand before assuming the presidency.
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” Michelle Obama told the magazine. “Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”