LeBron James Crowned TIME’s 2020 Athlete of the Year

by Chris Haney
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On Thursday morning, it was announced that NBA superstar LeBron James has been named TIME’s 2020 Athlete of the Year.

The L.A. Lakers forward has been recognized by the magazine for his achievements this year on and off the court. While 2020 has been unkind to many, James has had a stellar year.

He helped lead the Lakers to their 17th NBA title in October while playing in the NBA bubble. The 2019-2020 season came to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic but continued under quarantine in Orlando, FL. James won his fourth NBA championship along with his fourth Finals MVP award. Additionally, he’s the first NBA player to win Finals MVP with three different franchises. In fact, only NBA legend Michael Jordan has more Finals MVP awards to his name.

The storied NBA franchise also extended his contract with an extra two-year deal worth $85 million.

James Has Been an Outspoken Social Activist in 2020

In addition to his on-court success, LeBron James has been an outspoken social activist this season. He’s used his voice and platform in the fight against police brutality and racial inequality. Every NBA team went on strike amid the NBA playoffs. But, James led discussions with NBA executives and officials following the league-wide protest. He helped negotiate a return to play while also spearheading new league social injustice initiatives.

Furthermore, the NBA star promoted voter registration ahead of November’s presidential election. He also created an organization called “More Than A Vote” to help citizens register to vote and to combat voter suppression.

The organization included numerous famous Black athletes, musicians, and entertainers who promoted the campaign on their social media accounts. Each celebrity utilized their social media platforms to encourage their followers to cast their ballot in the election.

In September, TIME magazine named James and a few other athletes to their list of the 100 most influential people of 2020. The list included tennis champion Naomi Osaka and Formula One world champion racer Lewis Hamilton. Each played a vital role in the fight for equality in 2020.

“Not only is he the best player, but he has the most powerful voice,” Osaka said of James to TIME.

“When I saw across the pond that another top athlete was also fighting for similar causes, I knew, OK, I’m not alone here,” Hamilton said of James’ influence.