CLEVELAND (AP) — Snubbed in the MVP voting, LeBron James received an award maybe more significant.
James is this year’s recipient of the Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award given annually by the Pro Basketball Writers’ Association for “outstanding service and dedication to the community.”
Cleveland’s superstar is being honored for his educational work in Akron, Ohio, his hometown. He has helped more than 1,100 at-risk students through his LeBron James Family Foundation, which partnered with the University of Akron in 2015 to provide full scholarships to students who meet eligibility requirements. James is also starting a new public “‘I PROMISE” school to aid students and their families.
“It means a lot,” James said of the award, which is named after the league’s second commissioner. “I do so much for my community and my foundation does a great job of giving families and kids and the youth an opportunity to better their lives and better their futures and for that part of what I do to be recognized, it’s definitely an award that not only myself and my foundation but all my kids that are a part of my program and all the people that look up to me, it’s their award for sure.”
James has mentored students by writing letters, calling their homes and rewarding them with tickets to Cavs games. He has also bought groceries, supplied uniforms and arranged outings to expose the youngsters to new experiences.
“LeBron James’ efforts to help young people are exemplary,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award.”
The other four finalists for the award were New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Portland’s CJ McCollum and Memphis’ Zach Randolph.
Earlier this week, James learned that he is not among the top three MVP vote getters for the first time since 2008. James will finish in the media voting behind finalists Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. The winner will be announced on June 26.