After years of planning, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was finally opened on September 24, 2016 in a ceremony led by Barack Obama. The museum features numerous exhibits and roughly 3,500 different items on display for the public, and advance passes to the museum are sold out through March 2017. The museum's completion earlier this year would not have been possible without donations from a variety of people and companies. We can now add a three-time NBA champion to that list of contributors to the museum.
NBA superstar LeBron James, his business partner Maverick Carter and James' foundation are making a sizable donation to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, giving $2.5 million to a new Muhammad Ali exhibit of the museum. Muhammad Ali is widely considered to be one of the most influential athletes of all time, and it is clear that LeBron James was one of the people Ali had a great impact on.
In an interview with USA TODAY, James said the following about the late boxing legend, "Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring — what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor." He continued, "I think of him every day. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don't know if I'd be sitting here today talking to you about it."
James is donating the $2.5 million to an Ali exhibit called "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change." The exhibit will span two portions of the museum; the "Sports" gallery and the "Making a Way Out of No Way" gallery. The exhibit will focus on Ali's accomplishments in the world of boxing in addition to his social activism, which includes politics, religion, civil resistance and work in the community.
The late boxer's wife, Lonnie Ali, tweeted that she was "overwhelmed" by LeBron's "donation to preserve @MuhammadAli's legacy for generations to come."