As if LeBron James hasn’t garnered enough accolades in 2012, he can now add SI’s 2012 Sportsman of the Year award winner to his list.
According to a press release courtesy of Sports Illustrated, the publication honored James for not only winning his first NBA championship in 2012, not just for his second Olympic gold medal and not solely based on his third MVP award.
It was for his work with schoolchildren and other charitable efforts, on top of those impressive basketball feats, that he was named the Sportsman of the Year.
King James transformed his image and public perception perhaps more than any other athlete in history over the course of one single calendar year.
The Miami Heat superstar forward went from playing the role of NBA super villain—a typecast he embraced in his season after defecting from the Cleveland Cavaliers—to a beloved superstar who has the No. 1 selling jersey in the league and is unquestionably the biggest draw the league has to offer.
LeBron’s nod as Sportsman of the Year has him following in the footsteps of many legendary athletes.
World famous stars such as Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Brett Favre, Tom Brady and teammate Dwyane Wade have been given this honor for their contributions on and off the field of play.
It’s an award that has been given out since 1954, when Sports Illustrated first began publication. LBJ is the first basketball player to earn it since Wade led the Heat to an NBA championship and earned NBA Finals MVP honors in 2006.
Wade and James are currently trying to repeat as champions and have led Miami to a 12-3 record to start the 2012-13 campaign.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to see LeBron named the first back-to-back winner in history if he could help the Heat to a record-setting season and win another ring.