NBA star LeBron James has made major strides both on and off the court in 2018. Not only did we watch James lead his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA finals, but we’ve also witnessed him evolve into a fierce advocate for social justice. His accomplishments this year garnered him The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year Award, ESPN reported.
This is the third time that James has received the award, the news outlet writes. He was selected by U.S. editors and news directors. Aside from having a strong presence on the court where he averaged just shy of 30 points per game, he continuously used his platform to spread awareness about social issues and bring important conversations surrounding race in America to the forefront.
He produced a powerful documentary dubbed Shut Up and Dribble that explored the history of Black athletes who have been outspoken about social and political issues. He created an unscripted series called The Shop that featured candid conversations with celebrities about culturally relevant topics. One of his biggest accomplishments this year was opening up the I Promise School for youth in his hometown of Akron. He joins a list of influential athletes—including Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, and Tiger Woods—who have all received the award at least three times.
“In addition to being on everyone’s short list as one of the league’s all-time greatest players, LeBron is among the hardest-working players and is a thoughtful and impactful leader,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the news outlet. “He serves on the executive committee of the Players Association even as he builds an impressive media company of his own. And what’s most inspiring, and no surprise given his talent and focus, is how he’s done all of this while embracing his unique opportunity to positively impact communities in need.”
James dedicated the award to the I Promise School. “Throughout my journey if I’m able to win anything, my name is getting the award but it’s more than that,” he said in a statement, according to Sports Illustrated. “It’s everybody that I try to inspire. It’s my teammates and it’s my city, where I come from. It’s my kids and my school so it’s never about me.”
This accolade comes just weeks after it was announced that James’ Equality Sneakers will be featured in an exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.