Muhammad Ali's death in June cast a pall on the sports world and the nation in general. The legendary boxer was much more than a fighter as Ali played a role in the civil rights movement and his resistance to fight in the Vietnam War was an important moment in U.S. history. Ali influenced generations of people with his words and actions and even had a profound affect on Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
James spoke highly of Ali and the boxer's impact on his own political ideology as an athlete back in June. And now, James is doing much more than talking when it comes to Ali. According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, James is donating $2.5 million to the Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C..
"Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of 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 told USA TODAY Sports in an exclusive interview about the exhibit.
"I think of him every day. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don't know if I'd be sitting here today talking to you about it."
The Cleveland Cavaliers star, his charitable foundation and James' business partner Maverick Carter are donating a total of $2.5 million to the new exhibit, "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change."
Ali's wife, Lonnie, was "overwhelmed" by James' donation:
Usually donating his time and money to educational efforts in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, James has been quite philanthropic throughout his career. And now with his donation to the Smithsonian, James is also honoring the memory of the great Muhammad Ali, which will in turn inspire countless others just like LeBron is continually inspired by the boxer.