LeBron James donates $2.5 million to Smithsonian's Muhammad Ali - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LeBron James donates $2.5 million to Smithsonian's Muhammad Ali Display

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WASHINGTON, DC (WDRB) -- Basketball superstar LeBron James is making a multi-million dollar donation to honor Louisville native and boxing legend Muhammad Ali. 

The LeBron James Family Foundation and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) announced the $2.5 million gift. The money will support the museum's exhibit titled "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change." 

The exhibit tells the story of how Ali's contributions transcended the world of sport - his commitment to challenging racial barriers helped lay the groundwork for the successful careers of so many African Americans in athletics and beyond.

James' business partner Maverick Carter will also be part of the $2.5 million contribution to the Ali exhibit. With this gift, the LeBron James Family Foundation and Carter will join the list of founding donors for NMAAHC.

In a statement, James said, "Every professional athlete, regardless of race and gender, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Muhammad Ali."  He added that "His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation. I am honored to partner with the Smithsonian to celebrate one of the most influential figures in our nation's history who, along with Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens, used the power of sports to advance our civil rights." 

The museum exhibit includes the heavyweight champion's headgear and training robe worn at Dundee's Fifth Street Gym. And it walks visitors through Ali's athletic achievement, but also for his achievements in community activism, resistance, politics, spirituality and culture.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ali offered unwavering critiques of racism, heightened the profile of the Nation of Islam and raised awareness of the Vietnam War. After his boxing career, Ali continued to work globally as a force for change as a social activist, cultural critic and humanitarian.

Muhammad Ali died in June of 2016. He is buried in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery. 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened Sept. 24 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. near the Washington Monument.

The LeBron James Family Foundation is dedicated to recognizing the life-changing importance of education.  

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