Miami Heat all-star LeBron James was honored with the Champion of Youth Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA), and was presented with the prestigious title by award-winning actor Denzel Washington, the club’s national spokesman.
The award was given in recognition of James’ relationship with the clubs across America and the philanthropic efforts on his part for the betterment of the nation’s youth. In an interview, James said he was “humbled” to both receive such an honor and his time he has been able to spend with children, the latter of which he has made a priority during the NBA lockout.
”We’ve had this relationship with LeBron for five years,” said Frank Sanchez, the clubs’ vice president for sports and entertainment. ”He believes in the work that we do. He understands the kids and kids’ needs. He understands what it’s like to grow up in a family with one parent. He understands what it means to grow up in a community that might be in duress. LeBron understands that at his core.”
James, a recent Haute Living cover man and feature, received the award on Tuesday night, Sept. 20 and remained in Washington the next day for additional ceremonies and the launch of a new campaign called “Great Futures Start Here.” The campaign includes a public service announcement directed by film icon Ron Howard and stars approximately 20 former BGCA members to include iconic professional athletes such as Shaun White, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
James was not able to take part of the filming of the PSA as it filmed in June – around the time that the Miami Heat was playing in the NBA Finals – but is helping to promote the campaign.
“I know I get a lot of headlines for what I do,” commented James. ”But being around these kids these last two days and hearing their stories, I can really relate to them. I was one of those underprivileged kids where people thought we were a statistic and didn’t have a way out and would fall into the traps of life and our surroundings. For these kids to have a way out, that’s amazing and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
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