Exclusive - LeBron James Extended Interview

August 17, 2016 - LeBron James 08/17/2016 Views: 37,294

Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James reflects on his call for social activism at the ESPY Awards and discusses the LeBron James Family Foundation. (10:29)

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My guest tonight is an NBA star,he's a superstar

who plays for the 2016championship-winning

Cleveland Cavaliers.Please welcome LeBron James.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Thank you, thank you.

Oh, wow.

Thank you.

You guys are far too kind.Far too kind.

They love you, man, they love...

I-I made a... I should have hadchalk for you, though.

I didn't think of that.

You could have come outand done that.

Welcome to the show. Thank youso much for being here.

-I'm happy to be here, man.Thank you. -You look dapper

in a suit, may I say that.You look...

-I borrowed one of yours.-I...

I feel like mine would look likea five-year-old's on your body.

Before we go into the interview,before we go...

I got a... I've got a boneto pick with you,

uh, LeBron James.

I-I... So, I used totravel a lot

doing stand-upall over the world.

And because of that,I chose shirts

that didn't wrinkle easilyand still looked good on stage.

So I used to wear,almost exclusively,

LeBron James T-shirts, right?

-The Nike shirts with the lion.-Okay.

-'Cause I'm from Africa,obviously. So, the lion. -Right.

And then... and thenI came to the U.S.,

and I came to Clevelandjust after you had left.

And I didn't knowthe whole story.

I was just wearing the shirts.

And people (bleep) on meso hard.

People... I'm not even...People would walk...

They were... "You asshole!Get out of here, you ass...

Burn that shirt! Aah!"

And I was like... It wasthe most depressing thing.

I was on stage, people booed me,because I didn't know about,

like... You know? And I waslike, "But the guy moved, and.."

But, I got to say, like, if eversomeone has redeemed a shirt...

We were in Clevelanda few weeks ago

for the Republican convention.Same shirts, same streets,

and people were like,"Dope shirt, man!

Dope shirt, man!"

So, thank you.Thank you for that.

You sent me on a whirlwind, butwelcome, welcome to the show.

Oh, man, appreciate it.Thanks for having me.

Welcome to the show.You are, uh, you are prolific,

you are a legend,you are a future hall of famer.

You-you are everything,and yet your life

doesn't justrevolve around basketball.

I'm just gonna go straightinto this, 'cause it was

probably one of the mostamazing things I've seen.

This is youand some of your friends

-at the ESPYS.-Okay.

Let's use this momentas a call to action

for all professional athletesto educate ourselves,

explore these issues, speak up,

use our influence,

and renounce all violence.

And, most importantly,go back to our communities,

invest our time, our resources,

help rebuild them,

help strengthen them,

help change them.

We all have to do better.

-Powerful words.-(cheering and applause)

Powerful words.

You're an NBA...you're an NBA superstar.

Why do you feel you needto say something like that

-in a sports forum? -Uh,it just comes natural to me.

Um, and, you know,for me, personally,

um, I know where I come from,

you know, growing upin the inner city in Akron...

Akron, Ohio. And I knowthe challenges that kids have.

-Yeah. -And-and forour society to become as great

as it should be, I thinkit starts from the ground up.

And it startsin our communities,

our own communities,going back into our communities,

using our resources,using our knowledge, you know?

Anybody can lend money

or anybody can go givean appearance.

But I think actually being thereand them seeing you

gives them...it gives the kids hope.

And, uh, you know, withoutthe kids, we have no future.

So it-it just comes naturalto me,

and I understandwhat they go through.

I walked the same, uh,streets as them.

-Yeah. -I-I breathedthe same air as those kids.

I know what they go through,you know, growing up

in tough situations.So, um, I think

it's very important,for all of us.

You-you, uh... you gotinto Wheels for Education.

I mean, that wasreally your-your first foray

-into this, independently.-Yeah.

You-you didn't have a way to getto school when you were a kid.

-No. -You struggled gettingto school,

and so you started a programto help kids out.

-And now you startwith third graders. -Yeah.

Why third graders specifically?

Well, uh, between myselfand my office

and everyone at my foundation,there was...

We read up on it,and the statistics showed

that, um, if kids get behindin the third grade,

then it's the least amount

of chance for themto graduate high school.

-Yeah. -And so that's whywe started in third grade.

And yesterday was my, uh,

LeBron James Family FoundationReunion

where we welcome another thirdgrade class into our program,

-and this is our sixth year now,so... -Wow.

-Uh, and... uh, thank you.-(applause and cheering)

-Wow. -This is our sixth year,and it was unbelievable how...

If anybody has evercome to Ohio,

and been to Sandusky, Ohio,and been

-to the great Cedar Pointamusement park... -Yeah.

-I brought 5,000 familiesyesterday... -Wow.

...to the amusement parkfor our reunion.

-(applause and cheering)-Wow. I...

I think it's fascinatingthat you say, get involved...

-Yeah.-...and actively get involved,

because you do somethingthat is honestly the meanest

and most amazing thing ever.

You record messagesfor these kids...

-(laughing): Oh. Yeah.-...to inspire them.

So, for those who don't know,LeBron James records messages

and sends them outto these kids,

so if they're not,like, at school,

then you'll get a messagefrom LeBron James.

(laughter)

Do you not understandhow heartbreaking that is?

-(laughter)-Like, that's...

What do you say?What do you say in the call?

Uh, well, if you don't,if you miss school,

uh, they will get a phone calland say,

"Hey, listen, you arevery important to the classroom,

"and you're very importantto your friends and your family.

We need you in school."

If you're not doing wellin school,

I'll say, "Well, listen,we need you to read the books,

"we need you to stayin the classroom

and listen to your teachers."

And there's also times,because I know kids--

they would try to get slick

and try to miss a couple daysof school to...

'Cause they want the messagefrom LeBron James.

'Cause they wantthe message from LeBron James.

(laughter, applause)

So I'll show up at the schoolon 'em and be like,

"Listen, I knowwhat you're trying now.

I was a kid at one point, too."

So I would stay on 'em.

This is like the best guidancecounselor in life ever.

You better stop messing around.

LeBron James is gonnashow up and...

That's just so...it's-it's a beautiful story.

You're also, um,helping these kids,

not just in third grade,but you're trying

-to get everyone throughto a college education. -Yeah.

Yeah. We... That's funny,because I partnered

with the University of Akrona few years back,

and, um... if our kids--

-and the criteria isvery attainable. -Yeah.

If our kids can getfrom the third grade

and graduatethrough high school,

then there's a collegescholarship waiting on them.

-Wow. -Just full ride,just waiting on them.

-(cheering, applause)-I, uh...

I have a hunch...

I have a hunchthat you do that--

is-is that part of the guilt,maybe, that you have

-because, uh...-(laughter)

No, I mean,there's probably kids out there

who've come up to you and gone,"Hey, LeBron,

"I was gonna go straightfrom high school to the NBA,

but you shut that down,so now I got to go to college."

-Is that why you did it?-Well, I-I've had kids say,

"Well, Mr. James, um,you want us to go to college,

"but I read something about you,you didn't go.

And I thought it was'practice what you preach.'"

And I was like,well, you know, back then

when I had an opportunity--I'm a lot older than you--

college... college,they didn't have college

-when I came out of high school.-(laughter)

Oh! Oh, man, before...before we go to a break,

one of the most innovativethings that you do,

honestly blew me away, is you'renot just providing education

for the kids, you have a programwhere you help parents

-Yeah.-get a GED.

Yeah, absolutely.And it's funny you say that.

-(cheering, applause, whistling)-Thanks.

And... and, you know, Trevor,it's funny you say that,

because as much as we...as much as we want

to hit home on the kids,what happens in their household

-means a lot as well,so, you know, -Yeah.

I have all my kidsthat's looked after,

I have mentorsthat look after them,

I have high school kidsthat look after my kids as well,

but when they go home,they have to have someone else

they look up to as well,and sometimes, you know,

you have a lot of parentsthat's not educated as well.

So we've given the opportunityfor parents in these households

that didn't graduate high schoolto get an opportunity

to graduate, get a GED as well,so they can feel like,

you know, parents do their work,kids do their work,

they feel like, listen,we're all empowered,

and it's pretty coolwhat we're able to do.

It's-it's something.It's an amazing initiative.

Uh, you-you have managedto do something.

You know, it's-it's funny, uh,after you made that statement

at the es... at the ESPYS, uh,with your fellow stars

and close friends, um...

I've seen you guys on Instagrampartying without me.

Um...

(laughter)

You... you, in essence,

crossed a line that many people

have been afraid to cross.

So many athletes havealways said, "I don't want

"to get involved becauseit may taint my brand.

-I'm a sportsman; I can'tget involved." -Right.

You know, Michael Jordanfamously never got involved,

and yet a week after that,even Michael Jordan has now

-come out and started speaking.-Right.

Do you feel thatthis is the groundswell?

Why did you feel it's importantas an athlete to go,

-"I know I'm making money...-Right.

...but I can stillspeak to issues."

Yeah, I mean first of all,I-I'm...

I-I don't have all the answers.

-I'm not a politician.-Yeah.

Um, let's-let's throw thisout there right now.

-(laughter)-That's not me.

I know we look goodin these suits up there...

-(Noah laughs)-...but we're not politicians.

-I'm not a politician, but...-Yeah, yeah.

-I-I-I know what I'm about.-Yes.

And I know what I represent.

And I know how many kids

-look up to me for guidance.-Yeah.

And, I feel like ifthere's something else going on

in our society, um,that I feel very comfortable

-or very passionate about...-Yeah.

...then I'll speak upon it,no matter... no matter what

anyone says about it, um,because it doesn't matter to me.

I know I'm passionate about it.

I'm knowledgeable about it.

And I know how many kidsthat look up to me as...

as a role model, as a leader,and some-some of them,

as a father, as well,as a father figure.

Um, so... i-it's what I do.

I-- i-if it's not upfor other athletes, then-then...

I'm not giving... I'm notsaying, "Listen, go do it."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,so it's not pressure.

-It's-it's-it's not pressure.-Yeah.

But it's...it's comfortable to me.

It's what I do, and, uh,you know, I like to...

I like to give back.

It-it is truly, a...a magical thing to see

because a lot of peopledon't understand, as you said,

it is not fighting.

-It is just saying, "This ismy experience." -Right.

"This is my world."

Seeing you on the court,

wearing shirts, wearing, like,

wearing bandannas,wearing those...

it's just...it's a powerful thing.

And I-I think I'm notthe only one who says

-I-I appreciate it when I go.-Well, thank you.

LeBron James is part of it.

(cheers and applause)

After the break,chatting more to LeBron James,

not just about his workin the community, but, uh,

his ambitionsto take over the world.

LeBron James when we come back.

(cheers and applause)