LeBron James ‘Humbled’ by “SI” Sportsperson of the Year Award

ABC News(NEW YORK) — LeBron James was honored Monday night in Brooklyn, New York at the annual Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year awards show, which celebrated his commitment to his team, his sport and the city of Cleveland.

James was featured on the cover last week when he was named 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, which marked his 26th SI cover and second sportsperson of the year award. He now ranks as the magazine’s third most-featured athlete of all time, behind Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.

Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts caught up with James at the ceremony to discuss his journey and the meaning behind this accolade.

Thinking back to James’ first SI cover in 2002, “The Chosen One,” Roberts asked the reigning NBA champ if he has reflected back on the path that led to this moment.

“I haven’t yet,” he said. “Cause I’m still walking that yellow brick road. And that will be a time for reflection but anytime I hear — it’s my 26th cover of Sports Illustrated, it’s like I never dreamed about that. I was, like, ‘Just gimme one, please,’ when I was a kid. And I made my own up — it’s — it’s just too humbling.”

As Jay-Z welcomed “King James” to the stage, he was presented with the top honor and became the second athlete in history to win the award multiple times.

James delivered a touching and heartfelt speech in which he thanked his greatest supporters as well as fellow competitors in the room, but also talked about the inspiration of legends that came before him, without whose hard work James said this night would not have been possible.

“This award is not for me,” James told the audience. He said this award was for his family members, the kids in his foundation and then dedicated it to the sports legends that shaped this moment.

“This award is for the great Muhammad Ali, for Bill Russel, for Jim Brown, for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, because at the end of the day I’m not standing up here if you four gentleman sit at that table in the 1960’s … The most four dominant athletes at that time didn’t care what happened to them. They sacrificed everything that could have happened to them,” James said.

“But their calling and their reason for doing what they had to do was for a night like tonight,” he continued. “That in 2016 … we all can sit up here as African-Americans, as white-Americans, as Mexicans … and just say wow, this is an unbelievable night, in not only sports but in life.”

James told Roberts after the ceremony that he was both humbled and honored to dedicate the award to his family, friends, fans and foundation.

“I’m more happy of the fact that I’m receiving this on behalf of them, because that’s — they’re my inspiration every single day,” he said.

James’ decision to honor four of sports greatest icons — also known for their activism — he said came from his early knowledge of the history of sport and he asked himself, ‘what did they do outside of sport that made them so transcendent?’

He explained that Muhammad Ali, Bill Russel, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were good at what they did during times when, “definitely nothing was handed to them and everything was earned.”

The 2016 Sportsperson of the Year winner has a lot of hard-earned and well-deserved milestones to reflect on, but as he concluded in his speech, “It’s never about the individual,” James said. “It’s always about the people behind him. It’s always about the people that’s behind the camera. It’s always about the people that don’t get the credit. It’s always about the people that always sacrifice what they think they could be doing with their lives for the better of the individual.”

James said he is excited for his latest endeavor in television as the executive producer of the upcoming trivia game show The Wall. He told Roberts that it will give, “normal people an opportunity to change their lives.”

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