The 32-year-old superstar is being honored for improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. More than 1,100 at-risk students have benefited from programs through the LeBron James Family Foundation, which motivates children to stay in school and attend college.
The NBA made the award announcement Sunday as selected annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The PBWA is composed of about 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.
The honor, named after the NBA's second commissioner, is presented to a player, coach or athletic trainer "who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community."
James was one of five finalists for the award, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.
James takes an active role in mentoring students by writing letters, calling their homes and rewarding them with tickets to Cavs games. In addition, he has bought groceries, supplied uniforms and arranged outings to expose the youngsters new experiences.
"LeBron James' efforts to help young people are exemplary," PBWA president Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel said. "He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award."
This season, the LeBron James Family Foundation announced a partnership with Akron Public Schools to create a new school called the I PROMISE School tailored to meet the needs of the students in his program and their families. James also established the I PROMISE Institute at the University of Akron, which will provide around-the-clock support to LJFF students when they begin pursuing four-year degrees.