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LeBron James to receive NAACP’s Jackie Robinson Award

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In the midst of his feud with Charles Barkley, LeBron will be recognized for his success both on and off the court.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In his brilliant NBA career, LeBron James has been decorated with a number of honors. Tonight, he will add another one.

Every year, the NAACP Image Awards honor people of color in various fields. The award for sports, known as the Jackie Robinson Sports Award, has been awarded in the past to the likes of Jim Brown and Michael Jordan.

Tonight, in a ceremony before the Cavaliers battle the Timberwolves in Cleveland, it will be awarded to LeBron for the first time. In addition to his many accomplishments on the court, the NAACP noted that he has also contributed to his community through the LeBron James Family Foundation, which recently launched an initiative to guarantee college educations for thousands of Akron Public School students.

This comes at an interesting moment for LeBron, as he has recently been engaged in a heated back-and-forth with TNT’s Charles Barkley. Part of LeBron’s frustration, as I understand it, is that he feels he gets too much criticism, despite the fact that he has always represented the NBA in a positive way.

An award like this is a recognition of that fact. Other than the way he left Cleveland in 2010, which was a public relations disaster, LeBron has always done things the right way. He’s never been in any kind of trouble off the court and he has offered thoughtful responses to the difficult political questions of his era.

The full NAACP Image Awards, which will include highlights from tonight’s ceremony, will air on Saturday, February 11 on TV One.