LeBron James will never just shut up and dribble.

The Los Angeles Laker star is many things: A four-time MVP, four-time NBA champ, two-time Olympic gold medalist, one-time Space Jam: A New Legacy and EW cover star. But he also knows that he's "More Than an Athlete."

"I love who LeBron is as a man, as an athlete, as an activist," says James' New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee.

While James long ago established himself as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, the last few years he's focused on making just as big a mark off the court. Ahead of last year's election, James cofounded More Than a Vote, an organization that pushed to increase voter registration in the Black Community. And in 2018, through the LeBron James Family Foundation, he opened the I Promise School in his hometown, Akron, Ohio. The public school is "dedicated to those students who are already falling behind and in danger of falling through the cracks."

"I understand how difficult it is for someone to get out [of] where I come from," James tells EW. "For me to able to be rewarded with the gift I've been able to get from the man above and the help I had growing up, starting with mother, and then a lot of my little league coaches, once I got to the point where I was able to get out, I always felt it was important to give back. These kids have the same aspirations I had, and the only difference at times is someone believing in them. It warms my heart and my family's hearts to know that these kids have structure and assistance."

LeBron James
Credit: Allison Farrand/NBAE via Getty Images

As his longtime friend and business manager, Maverick Carter knows firsthand what makes James a true King: "The greatest thing he does is empower others, including myself, to achieve their dreams."

Growing up in Akron, the original Space Jam was "a big part of my childhood," says James, and now he gets giddy even thinking about the full-circle moment when he screens his Space Jam movie for his I Promise kids.

"Oh, I can't wait for that," James proudly says. "That is happening no matter what. I will make sure all our kids get an opportunity to screen this movie. I think that's going to be something that I will remember for the rest of my life, just being there with my I Promise kids, either at our school, or at a local movie theater, where we can bring all our kids, all their families. It's going to be something special."

Space Jam: A New Legacy premieres July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max.

To read more on Space Jam: A New Legacyorder the April issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands beginning March 19. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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