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James' social advocacy is a perfect fit for society

Tue, Apr 4th 2017 09:00 pm
Photo taken from KicksOnFire.com
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 LeBron James: professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, multi-millionaire with a $30.96 million annual salary and perhaps most importantly an advocate for social justice. Many athletes connect themselves with at least one charity in order to better their image however James has been an advocate since March 2011 when he began addressing the increasingly large high school dropout rate in his hometown Akron, Ohio.

He started the Wheels for Education initiative which is now a part of the LeBron James Family Foundation, according to the organization's website, lebronjamesfamilyfoundation.org. His passion for children's education is the basis in which James has built his credentials but with each injustice in our communities he steps up and grants his voice to those who do not have one as influential as his own.

Back in March 2012 James, along with the rest of his Miami Heat teammates took a photograph wearing hooded sweatshirts as a tribute to Florida teenager Trayvon Martin who was wearing one when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman a month prior. James posted this photo onto his Twitter and various other social media platforms.

From this day forward James has spoken up about injustice whenever it happens whether it be NBA related or political. July, 2016 brought the back to back killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by Louisiana and Minnesota police officers respectively. Both Sterling and Castile were men of color and James spoke about out about the fact that black men have been the main targets of police brutality, using the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter," according to Sports Illustrated.

There is no doubt that James is both loved on and off the court by his many fans and he continues to surprise them with his awareness of social and cultural weaknesses. People with disabilities are one of the minority groups that have continuosly fought for equal rights.

At The College at Brockport, Brockport Advocated for individuals with Disabilities, has been trying to communicate to administration for years while the campus may legally be accessible it is not universally accessible. This was one of the biggest pushes to begin renovating the campus. The entire middle section of campus, where the mall used to be located made getting from one end of campus to the other almost impossible. Getting over the stone in a wheelchair or down to the Tower Fine Arts was something many students on campus dared not try.

Even locally as we strive to be an all-inclusive community we have to remember it's not just about race or gender but also whether or not every single person has the opportunity to be and do whoever and whatever they want.

On March 20 of this year LeBron James and Nike announced their new shoe designed for disabled athletes, according to foxnews.com. The shoe's name which is longer than my own, The LeBron Soldier 10 FlyEase, was modeled after the signature shoe James himself wears. The difference is that instead of laces the sneakers can be secured with Velcro straps and zippers, according to Fox Sports.

"One of the key learnings we've had in crafting accessible footwear is the importance of easy entry and exit of the shoe, not just simplifying its fastening system," longtime Nike designer Tobie Hatfield said. "Eliminating the intricate hand movement of lace tying is important, but if the athlete cannot get their foot into the shoe, lacing becomes a moot point."

J's might be all the rage for young athletes but there is yet a model of Michael Jordan's shoe that helps young athletes who may have a harder time tying shoelaces or getting the shoes over their feet simply have a chance to follow the trend or play the sport many people adore, basketball.

"It's about us empowering every kid and everybody to understand we are all athletes," LeBron said when asked about the new design by Fox Sports. "Sports should never be taken away from a kid. It creates fun. It creates laughter. It creates brotherhood or sisterhood. To be able to have shoes that are easy to get on and off gives kids another opportunity to live out their dreams."

The week following the announcement James hosted a group of children from the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation at the team's facility. The clinic uses the latest technology, research and over 300 pediatric specialists who are leaders in cardiac care, neurological conditions, digestive diseases and other conditions to help give infants, children and adolescents medical, surgical and rehabilitative care, according to the organization's website, my.clevelandclinic.org. Much to their excitement, James presented each and every one of them with a new pair of the newly designed sneakers.

It's always an amazing story when professional athletes use their fame and fortune to genuinely help others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every four and a half minutes a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States, that's nearly 120,000 babies affected by birth defects each year.

I know this doesn't come anywhere near to accounting for how many athletes under the age of 18 have a disability; it hints at the fact that right from birth people are given these hurdles they have to jump over to accomplish what all of us take for granted. For a professional athlete to not overlook this like much of our society is a light in the darkness that is socially-acceptable oppression in the U.S.



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