Basketball superstar and philanthropist LeBron James is back in the news after President Trump insulted him on Twitter last weekend. After seeing a CNN interview with James, the president tweeted this about a man who has spent millions to establish a school for underprivileged children: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” said Trump. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
Trump made the remark on Saturday morning, hours before he appeared at a rally for a special Congressional election in James's home state.
Where is LeBron James from?
LeBron James was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. A three-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, James recently founded the I Promise School there. He had previously funded a program to prevent at-risk students from dropping out. In 2015, James said he would spend $41 million to send 1,100 children to college. An Aug. 4 Associated Press article described James as the state's "favorite son."
James played basketball for a Catholic high school in Akron, where he was chosen to be the first high school undergraduate to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Now 33, James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003 to 2010, when he departed for the Miami Heat, then returned to the Cavaliers from 2014 to 2018. He will play for the Los Angeles Lakers starting this season.
The Trump/LeBron James controversy
On Saturday night, Trump spoke at a rally for Congressional candidate Troy Balderson, whom the latest polls indicate is in trouble. Republicans have held the 12th District seat since 1983, but Balderson is a statistical dead heat with Democrat Danny O'Connor. Voters go to the polls Tuesday.
Trump's tweet about LeBron James did not go over well, even with members of his own party. “Rather than criticizing @KingJames, we should be celebrating him for his charity work and efforts to help kids," tweeted Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The governor then told the Sunday-morning political shows that Trump had not been invited to the Balderson rally. (The Balderson campaign said it was "honored" by Trump's presence.)
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CNN's Don Lemon also clapped back on Twitter: “Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages? #BeBest," he wrote, referring to Melania Trump's anti-bullying initiative.
For its part, the First Lady's office released a statement Sunday in support of James, saying she would be open to visiting the I Promise School.
It has become a Trump trope to attack the intelligence of prominent African-Americans, in what some have called attempts to sow divisiveness to distract from the legal and political troubles facing himself and the GOP. At another recent rally in Pennsylvania, Trump called his frequent critic Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), "a low-IQ individual."