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LeBron James calls Donald Trump 'so-called president' during heartfelt speech about Charlottesville

By CHRIS FEDOR • Updated Aug 16, 2017 at 1:42 PM

SANDUSKY — LeBron James capped a star-studded LeBron James Family Foundation event Tuesday night by referring to Donald Trump as the "so-called president" in a heartfelt speech addressing the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"I know there's a lot of tragic things happening in Charlottesville," James said during his annual summer get-together to celebrate the students and families in his I Promise program. "I have this platform and I'm somebody that has a voice of command and the only way for us to get better as a society and for us to get better as people is love. And that's the only way we're going to be able to conquer something as one.

"It's not about the guy that's the so-called president of the United States, or whatever the case. It's not about a teacher that you don't feel like cares about what's going on with you every day. It's not about people that you just don't feel like want to give the best energy and effort to you. It's about us.

"It's about us looking in the mirror. Kids all the way up to the adults. All of us looking in the mirror and saying, 'What can we do better to help change?' And if we can all do that and give 110 percent, then that's all you can ask for."

James' remarks come on the heels of his evening tweet blasting Trump following the president's speech earlier in the afternoon.

James wrote to his 37.6 million followers, "Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!"

Trump stated Tuesday in a press conference that "there is blame on both sides" after protests Saturday in Charlottesville turned violent with a mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists attempting to "defend" a Civil War statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that the city wants to remove.

There was one death and several injuries.

"Shout out to the innocent people in Charlottesville and shout out to everybody across the world that just want to be great and just want to love," James said. "Thank you, and I love you all."

This isn't the first time James has used his powerful voice to address a social issue. Nor is it the first time he has spoken about Trump.

On Saturday night, James expressed his sadness for the events over the weekend and openly wondered about the direction America is headed. Earlier this season, when asked about the All-Star voting being "goofy" because of the players' involvement in the process, James unleashed a quip about the president.

"There's always goofy votes," James said at the time. "I mean, Donald Trump is our president."

James has emerged as one of the NBA's most high-profile voices on social issues. In the past, along with his Miami Heat teammates, James wore a hoodie after Trayvon Martin's death. While with the Cavaliers, James donned an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt in honor of Eric Garner. In 2015, following a Cleveland infant being killed by gunfire, James called for greater regulation of firearms.

Last summer, James tweeted in support of Black Lives Matter and said he "shed multiple tears" after police shot and killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Then during the ESPYS, James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony called for social change in a powerful, heartfelt speech.

James has repeatedly said he will share his opinion when he feels educated enough on an issue, wanting to make sure he does enough research to give an informed opinion. Not all athletes are always willing to comment.

But during James' first real public performance since losing in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and on a night of celebration at Cedar Point Amusement Park, one that featured performances from Usher, Jordin Sparks and a special guest appearance by teammate J.R. Smith, James used the stage to once again focus on something other than basketball, something bigger -- America's future.

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