LeBron James explains why he is supporting Hillary Clinton

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 4, 2016

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A day after writing that he is endorsing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for president, the Cavs' LeBron James said he didn't want his words to be misinterpreted.

"Well anytime I do something, I always say I like to put it in writing form so it's not, it can never be interpreted the wrong way," James said after Cleveland Cavaliers practice. "It can't be uninterrupted, and those are my words and there's no way you can depict it or try to say those are my words or those are my feelings. I put it in writing so there's no way you can kind of [misinterpret them]. You get a great understanding of how I feel, so I like to do it that way."

James famously announced his decision to leave the Miami Heat and return to the Cavs in the summer of 2014 in a story written for Sports Illustrated. In the Clinton essay, published online Sunday evening on Business Insider and later in the Monday print edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, James writes that Clinton's shared interest with him when it comes to community outreach, emphasizing education and recognizing the importance of building strong race relations in the United States has caused her to garner his support.

James also writes that Clinton will "build on the legacy" established by current President Obama, whom James has become close with in Obama's two terms in office.

"We've become really good friends and from Day 1 I just always liked his vision, especially from a community standpoint," James said Monday. "And I believe Hillary can continue that legacy that Barack has done for the last eight years. You guys know how important my community service is, especially in my hometown. That's a main point for me."

Clinton was scheduled to appear in James' hometown of Akron, Ohio, on Monday at an Ohio Democratic Party voter registration event at Goodyear Hall, eight days before the Ohio voter registration deadline.

James said the Cavs' training camp schedule would preclude him from seeing Clinton in person.

"I know she's actually in my hometown today, and because we have two practices today I won't be able to attend that, but we've been in communication about doing something and we'll figure it out," James said. "Obviously, my letter going out, it said enough if I'm not able to accomplish that. You know who I'll be voting for."

In late October 2008, less than a week before the election, James and hip-hop artist Jay Z hosted a free concert at Quicken Loans Arena in support of Obama's candidacy dubbed the "Last Chance for Change" rally. Earlier that month he spoke at a voter registration rally alongside producer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons.

Quicken Loans Arena also happens to be the place where Donald Trump accepted the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. Asked about Trump appearing in the same building he plays his home games in, James said, "It didn't bother me. I knew who I'm going to be behind and, it just happened that way. I have no control over that, so it didn't bother me. It didn't stop me from doing my day job, so. But I know who I am endorsing, who I'm getting behind, and that's all that matters."

Trump held a fundraiser in Detroit last week at a building belonging to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. However, the Republican Party paid to rent the space, a source with knowledge of the event told ESPN.

James, 31, has been eligible to vote since the 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry. He was asked how this year's election compares to others in his lifetime.

"I don't know," James said. "I think they are all different in their own right. Obviously in '08, I was big on Barack just for multiple reasons; most of all his vision and also having a change because I feel like he had the mindset to make that happen and you know I got out and spoke about it. And I'm doing the same thing today. It's hard to say in my lifetime because I haven't been always able to vote and I'm not a political guy ... I'm not into politics, but I know what I stand by, so, today I know what it's about."

James later echoed the mission statement of his LeBron James Family Foundation when asked what he hoped to accomplish by endorsing Clinton.

"For me, the main thing is going back into the communities and giving our world a better future," James said. "Our kids are our future and I believe Barack started it and I believe Hillary is going to continue it. So, I'm all about communities. It starts from the ground up and if we can continue to give back to communities and do the things we need to do to help these kids understand that they're our future and know that they got a helping hand, it makes this world a better place."

James released his endorsement less than a week after the first presidential debate between Clinton and Trump, but he said the 90-minute spectacle did not impact his choice.

"I didn't need the debate," James said. "It was just, when I'm ready to speak on something I do it and obviously you can go back behind the letter and see why I endorsed Hillary."

Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, lauded James for his stance.

James said he was not trying to influence voters in the swing state of Ohio through his endorsement. No Democratic candidate has won the presidential election without winning Ohio and its 18 electoral votes since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

"I didn't do it for that," James said. "I did it because it's what me and my family believe in, it's what we want, and hopefully it happens."

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