LeBron James: Only way for us to get better as people is love
SANDUSKY, Ohio -- LeBron James called for healing in the wake of this past weekend's violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and took a swipe at President Donald Trump during James' annual family reunion charitable event Tuesday night.
"I know there's a lot of tragic things happening in Charlottesville," James said before leaving the stage at Cedar Point amusement park. "I just want to speak on it right now. I have this platform and I'm somebody that has a voice of command, and the only way for us to be able to get better as a society and us to get better as people is love.
"And that's the only way we're going to be able to conquer something at the end of the day. It's not about the guy that's the so-called president of the United States, or whatever the case. It's not about a teacher that you don't feel like cares about what's going on with you every day. It's not about people that you just don't feel like want to give the best energy and effort to you. It's about us. It's about us looking in the mirror. Kids all the way up to the adults. It's about all of us looking in the mirror and saying, 'What can we do better to help change?' And if we can all do that and give 110 percent ... then that's all you can ask for.
"So, shoutout to the innocent people in Charlottesville and shoutout to everybody across the world that just want to be great and just want to love. Thank you, and I love you all."
James held his daughter, Zhuri, in his arms as he spoke and was flanked by his two sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce Maximus, as well as Cavs teammate JR Smith and pop musician Jordin Sparks, who performed at the event.
On Saturday, a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville led by white supremacists and right-wing members turned tragic when a car, allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Fields, 20, has been charged with murder and other counts after the hit-and-run crash, which injured 19 others.
Trump initially said that "many sides" were to blame for the violent scene. On Monday, he condemned neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKK members involved as "repugnant." And on Tuesday, he again said "there is blame on both sides" for what happened.
James referenced Trump on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, hours before his foundation's event:
This marked the second straight summer the Cavs star used his LeBron James Family Foundation celebration to address social issues facing the country.
Last August, a month after he made a call for social change at the ESPYS, James said at his event: "I believe in order for us to ultimately be as great as we can be as a nation that all of us have to go back into our communities and lend our hand. It starts brick by brick. It starts person by person, family by family, kid by kid."
James has taken a couple of jabs at Trump since he took office in January.
Asked about some questionable voting for the NBA All-Star Game in February, James shot back, "There's always goofy votes. Donald Trump is our president."
James also took a stand against Trump's executive order to ban immigrants and refugees from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations, telling The Hollywood Reporter in February, "I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people. I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it."
James' foundation hosted approximately 7,000 of its students and families at Tuesday night's event. His foundation, now in its seventh year, teamed with the University of Akron two years ago to pledge 2,300 four-year college scholarships, at a cost of more than $80 million, to students who enroll in and complete an education program.
On Tuesday, James welcomed the newest members of his "I Promise" campaign -- an incoming third-grade class that will become among the first students to enroll in the "I Promise School" that James' foundation is opening in 2018 in conjunction with Akron Public Schools.
"Without you guys, there's no me, seriously," James told the crowd. "You guys make me get up every day, be a role model, be a father and be a husband, friend, son. You guys make me be everything I can be and try to be as perfect as I can for you kids, because I can't let you down. I refuse to let you down. Thank you for allowing me to be your inspiration. Thank you for allowing me to be a father figure at times, your superhero at times, your brother at times and all the above. Thank you so much."
Sparks commended the Cavaliers star.
"What is all of this if you don't?" Sparks said when asked about James' social consciousness. "What is the point of all of this? Having the platform, having the voice, having eyes on us if we don't use our voice or use our ability to effect change, to affect a small community, which turns to a bigger community, which turns to a city, a town; then you're affecting the state, and it goes on and on and on. And if we can't do that, then how are we going to show these kids that they can? We have to use our voices so that they know they can use theirs."