A Look at LeBron James’ Inspiring History of Activism in His Hometown and Beyond

Though still divided, public opinion largely seems to be smiling in hindsight on the quiet knee in the wake of weeks of widespread protests, triggered at first by Floyd’s death but which rapidly expanded to honor Arbery, Taylor and a long list of Black lives unnecessarily lost, as well as demand real systemic change.

The demonstrations have largely been peaceful, but clashes with police and instances of vandalism and looting have battled for the spotlight.

This month, James also re-invoked Fox News host Laura Ingraham‘s 2018 comment that James should “shut up and dribble”—an air ball when it comes to advice but which became the name of James’ three-part Showtime series examining the changing role of athletes in the public arena in these fraught political times.

“You thought I would [zipped-lip emoji]??…I’m louder than EVER,” James promised.

And he was already pretty loud, though in more of an actions-speak-louder sort of way.

In addition to the three NBA championships and four league MVP Awards, not a year of his already legendary career has gone by without James coming up with a new way to give back, pay it forward or otherwise help lift up the generations following in his wake with the tools they need to succeed. His vision started with the kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was raised by a single mom and benefited from mentors taking him under their wing on his road to becoming, first, the best prep school basketball player in the country.

Long before he vowed to never just shut up and dribble, here’s how he was already using his voice:

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