LeBron James is making a massive contribution to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a Muhammad Ali exhibit.
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar gifted the Washington, D.C., museum with a $2.5 million donation from himself, his LeBron James Family Foundation and business associate Maverick Carter, USA Today Sports reported.
“Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone [for] 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 said. “I think of him everyday. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today talking to you about it.”
A fan of the late boxing legend since childhood, James’ donation will allow the NMAAHC to launch the “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” exhibit. It will contain information about Ali’s boxing career and also highlight his philanthropy and activism. The exhibit will occupy both the Making a Way Out of No Way gallery and the Sports display.
Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, contacted James during the summer to offer the basketball star the chance to donate to the exhibit. Once Chenault made the offer, James earned the blessing of Ali’s widow, Lonnie. Ultimately, the two befriended each other.
In a statement, Lonnie Ali remarked on James’ charitableness.
“I am overwhelmed by the incredible generosity LeBron James has shown,” Lonnie Ali said. “This exhibit will enable children visiting the Smithsonian to learn more about Muhammad’s work outside of the ring, particularly his humanitarian work and stance on social justice for all people. … I know that if Muhammad was alive today, he would be honored.”
The $2.5 million grant is the latest in a line of philanthropic efforts by James. On Good Morning America in August, the Akron, Ohio, native discussed giving back to his hometown through educational endeavors. The Family Foundation supports third-grade students through high school graduation. Then, James announced a partnership with the University of Akron to give scholarships to high school graduates in his program.