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LeBron James officially endorses Hillary Clinton for president

LeBron James accepts the award for best male athlete at July’s ESPY awards. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

LeBron James made it official Sunday: He is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

The Cavaliers forward, one of the world’s biggest sports stars, threw his support behind the Democratic candidate in an essay published online by Business Insider and set to run in print editions of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal.

“I support Hillary because she will build on the legacy of my good friend, President Barack Obama,” James wrote. “I believe in what President Obama has done for our country and support her commitment to continuing that legacy.”

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Coming from a native of Akron and an icon in Cleveland, which got its first major professional team championship in 52 years when the Cavs won the NBA crown in June, James’s endorsement could carry significant weight and affect the presidential race in that state and beyond. Ohio is among the swing states considered still up for grabs between Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, and it has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1960.

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Calling Clinton “a champion for children and their futures,” James looked back to his own impoverished childhood in his essay, and he emphasized his efforts to improve the lives of young people in his hometown. The LeBron James Family Foundation helps children, and some of their parents, reach academic goals, with the promise of a scholarship to the University of Akron for as many as 2,300 at-risk kids.

“A lot of them didn’t think college was for them, but now I hear they want to become things like doctors and business owners,” James wrote. “We even have a future astrophysicist. I can’t wait to see how far these kids can go.

“I also tell all my kids how important it is that they give back to the community. … And it takes everyone working together to create real change,” the four-time NBA MVP added. “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.”

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The focus on at-risk children and “rebuilding our communities,” James wrote, is part of arriving at a solution to “the violence, of every kind, the African-American community is experiencing in our streets and seeing on our TVs.” In July, James, along with his close friends, and fellow NBA superstars, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, stood onstage at the ESPY Awards and issued a “call to action,” encouraging other athletes to get more involved in their communities and help bring positive change to the country.

At the Cavs’ media day last week, James told reporters, “I’m not a politician, but I’ve lived this life and I’ve got a family, and what scares me is my kids growing up in this society right now, where innocent lives are being taken and it seems like nothing is being done.” He added, “I’m not up here saying all police are bad, because they’re not. I’m not up here saying that all kids are great and all adults are great, because they’re not. But at the same time, all lives do matter.”

“I am not a politician, I don’t know everything it will take finally to end the violence,” James said in his essay. “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. And Hillary is running on the message of hope and unity that we need.”