OAKLAND, Calif. — The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said the public owes LeBron James a “debt of gratitude and thanks” for the Cavaliers superstar’s “graciousness in the face of adversity” with his response Wednesday to his Los Angeles home being vandalized with a racial slur spray painted on the front gates.
“He has built a level of responsibility for superstars that is a model for this generation of athletes,” said Jackson, the veteran civil rights leader, in an interview with cleveland.com. He is attending Game 1 of the Finals Thursday between the Cavs and Warriors.
“Very few athletes invest in the cause of social justice,” Jackson continued. “Dr. (Martin Luther) King would be so proud of him. LeBron’s sense of dignity defies the odds.”
In response to the vandalism of his $21 million home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, James said “no matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is — it’s tough.”
He said “we got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.”
Jackson said James was “an unusual character with the broad shoulders to be a light in darkness.” Jackson said his view of James is shaped not just by his response Wednesday, but by his track record of social and political activism and work with Akron school children through the LeBron James Family Foundation.
Jackson called James a “superstar servant” in “the realm” of Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood, and Muhammad Ali.
“LeBron has a sense of what made his life possible,” Jackson said. “More athletes should be challenged to stand up that way.”