LeBron James has been at the forefront of athlete activism for years now, both in terms of charity efforts and in raising awareness for social justice and societal change. His latest initiative has involved voter mobilization ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
With all of it, James has received plenty of criticism and has become a lightning rod in some political circles. That, James has learned, comes with the territory, as he explained in his NBA Finals press conference on Monday.
"You can't get caught up in what everybody else thinks because everyone is not always going to agree with your movement," he said.
"But if you're true to it and it hits home from the heart, then it shouldn't matter. And it doesn't because you have the knowledge, you have the passion and you have the support to be able to shed light on situations that you feel are either unjust or wrong. There's a thing about common sense. You know the difference between right and wrong. That's something I grew up on. My mother always told me to be able to understand the difference between right and wrong."
When discussing his activism, James harkened back to 2012 when he was the Miami Heat and the whole team decided to wear black hoodies during pregame warm-ups in honor of Trayvon Martin. That high-profile incident has clearly stuck with James and helped form his worldview today.
"You sit back and think about eight years ago when we sat in Detroit in the ballroom when I was part of the Miami Heat team and we all decided to put our hoodies on in reflection and rememberance of Trayvon Martin and that tragic incident," James said.
"We knew that it was going to be uncomfortable to a lot of people and we didn't care because we understood how much it hit home for us. A lot of us guys have sons of our own and couldn't imagine if our kid was to leave home and not return. I think that's what it boils down to."
James spoke these things in the middle of fielding basketball questions at the podium between Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals. Such is life for James now, as he aims to use his significant platform to raise awareness and create change.