ESPN’s Rachel Nichols Interviews LeBron James One-on-One in Akron

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ESPN’s Rachel Nichols Interviews LeBron James One-on-One in Akron

  • Four-Time NBA MVP Discusses His Foundation, ESPYs Speech, Basketball and More
  • Debuts Thursday on ABC’s GMA, Extended Conversation on ESPN’s Weekend Editions of SportsCenter

Nichols Q&A via ESPN Front Row

ESPN host Rachel Nichols conducted a rare one-on-one interview this week with three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The interview debuts Thursday morning on ABC’s Good Morning America – James will then be in-studio with GMA host Robin Roberts – and later that morning during editions of SportsCenter on ESPN. This weekend, SportsCenter will also air an extended version of the conversation with James.

Nichols, host of ESPN’s in-season weekday NBA show The Jump, got an inside look at how the LeBron James Family Foundation is working to provide opportunities to kids in Akron. Established by James in 2011, the Foundation’s mission is to positively affect the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. The program begins working with kids in the third grade, the age at which children are most at risk of starting to fall behind. Kids remain in the program as they progress through grade school. The inaugural class is now entering eighth grade.

In addition, the University of Akron has pledged to offer college scholarships to kids who complete the Foundation’s program when they graduate high school.

In the conversation with Nichols, James discusses his efforts to help kids in Akron, and he talks about his memorable speech at the ESPYS in July. While joined by fellow NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, James said on-stage: “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change…We need to go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, to help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.” James also touches upon a number of NBA and basketball topics.

Interview excerpts from James:

On the importance of building something in the Akron community where he grew up:

“I definitely could’ve been a statistic. I mean, I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was 16 when she had me. I grew up in the inner city where there’s a lot of violence.” 

On why the work his foundation is doing means so much to him:

“I’m similar to these kids in every way, every way, shape, or fashion. I walk the same roads as these kids. I breathe the same air as these kids. You know, I understand what they’re going through, growing up in an inner city, and having people just – basically forget them. Like, there’s no way they’re gonna make it. I had days where I just felt like it was just me and mom, you know, and no one cared, and there’s no way that we’re gonna be able to make it outta this.” 

On the ESPYS speech, where he was joined by fellow NBA stars:

“We wanted to start off the show with something that meant something, you know, that really was true to our hearts, and let our fellow athletes know where we stand.”

On Kevin Durant signing with Golden State:

“I was like, ‘Wow.’ Just like probably everybody else. I think everybody said, ‘Wow’.”

On perhaps re-joining Team USA for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:

“Every time I watch ’em I wish I was out there…I did not retire from Team USA. I just did not play this summer. So I still left the door open.”

On chasing Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player ever: 

“Absolutely. I’m chasing that greatness, how great that ghost was.”

On possibly being a professional team owner one day:

“One thing I do know, I do wanna stay in basketball. I would love to be a part of a franchise. And if I’m fortunate enough financially to have my own team, that would be awesome. That would be great.”

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Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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