LOS ANGELES — Editor's note: Video at the top of this story was originally published on Nov. 6, 2020.
Akron native LeBron James is getting new national recognition Thursday after being declared TIME magazine's Athlete of the Year for 2020.
James' designation was announced on NBC's TODAY by Al Roker.
"This year he was really influential off the court as well, responsible for getting out the vote, converting arenas into polling stations and he really leaned into his activism, making athletes all around the world feel safe to speak about issues," Roker said.
TIME also elaborated on why James was their top pick in a lengthy post online. Here's a portion of TIME's story:
"After nearly two decades in the NBA, James has fully embraced that his talent on the court is a means to achieving something greater off it," TIME wrote. "And this year, more than in any before it, he showed why he is unrivaled in both. Despite misgivings, James played on in the bubble and led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA championship—his first with the team and fourth overall. By staying, James increased his leverage and influence, and got deep-pocketed owners, fellow athletes and fans the world over engaged directly with democracy. And through it all, he spoke personally to the anguish of Black Americans, channeling pain and outrage into a plan of action."
James and students from his I PROMISE School in Akron were also featured on a Wheaties box earlier this year.
TIME, meanwhile, revealed its four finalists for the 2020 Person of the Year earlier Thursday. Those include President Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Movement for Racial Justice and Dr. Anthony Fauci / health workers. The winner will be announced at 10 p.m. Thursday during an NBC special.