Getty Images LeBron James

The King is honoring The Greatest with a lot of green.

According to USA Today Sports' Jeff Zillgitt, LeBron James, his charitable foundation and business partner Maverick Carter are donating $2.5 million the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's exhibit, "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change." The museum opened in Washington D.C. in September, and the Ali exhibit overlaps two portions of the museum: the Sports gallery and the Making a Way Out of No Way gallery.

"Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring -- what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor," James says.

"I think of him every day. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don't know if I'd be sitting here today talking to you about it."


James joins Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson as notable donors to the new museum. Jordan gave $5 million and Johnson, along with wife cookie, gave at least $1 million.

"His support will help us to continue the story of Muhammad Ali and will encourage athletes to realize how important athletics is in terms of social justice," says Lonnie Burch, museum founding director. "It's also really important that actions like this by Mr. James encourage younger athletes and people with means to recognize the philanthropy and paying homage to those who went before, how crucially important that is."

James reportedly called Ali's widow, Lonnie, before making his donation. She tweeted her gratitude Thursday:


Ali, who battled Parkinson's syndrome for the final 32 years of his life, passed away this past June at age 74 between Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals. James, who would ultimately win that NBA Finals, said then: "As a kid I gravitated towards him because he was a champion, but I only knew as a kid of what he did inside the ring. As I got older and I started to be more knowledgeable about the sport, about sport in general and about the guys who paved the way for guys like myself."

James' net worth is estimated to be greater than $300 million. His prime comes in a much different era than Ali's did, thanks in part to the progressive work of The People's Champion.

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