Op-EdOpinion

Why I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton

Two years ago, I [said] I was [returning] home to Northeast Ohio – where I was born and raised. When I came back, I had two missions.

In June, thanks to my teammates and all your support, I accomplished my on-the-court mission. We came back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to finally grab what we’ve waited 52 long years for: a championship in Northeast Ohio. Holding that trophy was beyond words. It still hasn’t hit me. But for me, coming home was never just about basketball.

As a kid, I didn’t have much money. It was just my mom and me, and things were rough at times. But I had basketball. That gave me a family, a community and an education. That’s more than a lot of children in Akron can say. There are a lot of people who want to tell kids who grew up like me and looked like me that they just don’t have anything to look forward to.

That’s dead wrong. And that’s why I came back to Cleveland to continue my second mission. I am determined to make sure my kids in Akron have what they need to become their best selves. Opportunities, a support system and a safety net for kids in poverty or kids in single-parent households shouldn’t be limited to those lucky enough to be blessed with athletic talent. When I entered the league, I founded the LeBron James Family Foundation. I didn’t know it at the time but my mission has become clear. We give children in Akron the resources and opportunities they need to stay in school and reach their dreams through education.

I don’t want to see any of them fall through the cracks. That easily could have happened to me. But I was fortunate enough to have support and mentors around me who kept me on the right path. That’s what we’re giving these kids through my foundation. And when someone believes in you, that changes everything.

I’m so proud of the more than 1,100 students in my Wheels for Education and Akron I PROMISE Network programs. We’re working on year six now, and my kids have big plans for their futures. A lot of them didn’t think college was for them, but now I hear they want to become doctors and business owners. We even have a future astrophysicist. I can’t wait to see how far these kids can go. I tell them how important it is that they give back to the community. If basketball has taught me anything, it’s that no one achieves greatness alone and that it takes everyone working together to create real change.

When I look at this year’s presidential race, it’s clear which candidate believes the same thing. Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the youth in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

I support Hillary because she will build on the legacy of my good friend, President Barack Obama. I believe in what President Obama has done for our country and support her commitment to continuing that legacy. Like my foundation, she has always been a champion for children and their futures. For over 40 years, she’s been working to improve public schools, expand access to health care, support children’s hospitals and so much more.

She wants to make sure kids have access to a good education, no matter what zip code they live in. She’ll rebuild schools that are falling apart and put more money into computer science. She’ll make sure teachers are paid what they deserve so they can give everything to their students. She also has plans to make college a reality for more people in America, especially for those who can’t afford it. Our kids are proof of the hope and motivation that come from knowing college can be in their future, no matter what obstacles they might face.

Finally, we must address the violence, of every kind, [that] the Black community is experiencing in our streets and seeing on TV. I believe rebuilding our communities by focusing on at-risk children is a significant part of the solution. However, I am not a politician; I don’t know everything it will take finally to end the violence. But I do know we need a president who brings us together and keeps us unified. Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution. We must all stand together no matter where we are from or the color of our skin. Hillary is running on the message of hope and unity that we need.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in Akron, Northeast Ohio and all across our great country. We need a president who understands our community and will build on the legacy of President Obama. So let’s register to vote, show up to the polls and vote for Hillary Clinton.

LeBron James shared his endorsement of Hillary Clinton in an op-ed first published in the Business Insider. It also appeared in print in the Akron Business Journal last Monday.

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