After James accepted the award Saturday night, he thanked the NAACP for recognizing his efforts beyond the basketball court.
“This award is so much more than myself,” he said. “I’m here receiving it, but this dives into everything that I’m a part of.”
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was recognized for his effort through his LeBron James Family Foundation and his I PROMISE School, a co-curricular educational initiative. Last year, he launched More Than a Vote — a coalition of Black athletes and artists — that is dedicated to educating and protecting Black voters.
James ventured into the entertainment realm with The SpringHill Company, which unites three companies he co-founded with Maverick Carter including athlete empowerment brand UNINTERRUPTED, film and television production company SpringHill Entertainment and The Robot Company, the brand and culture consultancy.
During his speech, James said he wished he could have accepted the award on his feet. But under doctor’s orders, he was unable to do so after spraining his right ankle in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks last week. He has been ruled out indefinitely.
“I wish I could be standing for this award, but the doctors told me I need to keep the weight off my ankle. I appreciate all the well wishes and thoughts to my injury. I’ll be back soon.”
The awards ceremony honoring entertainers and writers of color virtually aired live on BET. It was also simulcast on CBS, MTV, VH1, MTV2, BET HER and LOGO.
“Black-ish” star and comedian Anthony Anderson hosted the show for the eighth consecutive year.
The late Chadwick Boseman won best actor in a motion picture for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The actor, who also starred in the blockbuster Marvel film “Black Panther,” died at 43 last year after privately battling colon cancer.
“As always, he would give all honor and glory to the most high God,” said the teary-eyed Simone Ledward Boseman, the actor’s wife, who accepted the award on his behalf. “He would thank his mom and dad. And he would give honor to his ancestors as we now honor him. Thank you NAACP for giving him his flowers. He was an uncommon artist and an even more uncommon person.”
Boseman spoke about how common Black people have been diagnosed with or died from colon cancer. She urged Black people over the age of 45 to get screened.
“Don’t put it off any longer,” she said. “Please, get screened. This disease is beatable if you catch it in its early stages. So you don’t have anytime to waste, even if you don’t have any family history. If you think nothing is wrong, and younger than 45, please be proactive about your health. Know the signs. Know your body. Listen to your body.”
Michelle Obama presented Stacey Abrams with the first Social Justice Impact award. Abrams was honored for her political efforts and voting rights work that helped turn Georgia into a swing state.
The former first lady said Abrams’ “courage is contagious, her approach is inclusive, and her eyes are fixed on the mountain top that has always brought out the best within us.”
After Obama called her “unstoppable,” Abrams accepted the award at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. She said her upbringing through her parents helped steer her in the right direction.
“They taught me and my five siblings that having nothing was not an excuse for doing nothing,” she said. “Instead, they showed by word and deed. To use our faith as a shield to protect the defenseless. To use our voices to call out injustices. And to use our education and out time to solve the problems that other turn away from.”
Viola Davis took home best actress for her film and television roles in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”
“Bridgerton” star Regé-Jean Page let out a scream of surprise after learning he won best actor in a drama series for his role in the Netflix series.
Jazmine Sullivan gave the awards show's first performance. She wore a light blue shag dress while performing “Pick Up Your Feelings.”