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LeBron James Named ‘Sports Illustrated’ Sportsperson of the Year

LeBron James
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The man who provided salvation to a long-suffering city has been honored for doing so.

LeBron James has been named Sports Illustrated‘s Sportsman of the Year for 2016 after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title, the first in the franchise’s history and the first for any sport in the championship-starved city since 1964.

James, the hometown hero who infamously returned to Cleveland in 2014 with a promise to win a championship, also won the honor in 2012 after he led the Heat to the NBA title. He joins Tiger Woods as the only people to earn SI’s honor twice.

James’ 2016 postseason heroics are the stuff of legend. He led the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals over a Golden State Warriors team that would’ve been in the discussion of greatest NBA teams ever if they had won it all.

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In selecting James, SI explained:

He, of course, was not the only athlete to help end a famous title drought. He wasn’t even the only athlete to be part of a comeback from a 3-1 deficit to end a famous title drought. He is, however, the only athlete who did those things to gain more than a ring. In putting the Cavaliers on his back in the NBA Finals he also fulfilled a promise to his home city and to an entire region. He was following through on that heartfelt, but risky, vow he made three summers ago when he returned home after four successful years in Miami.

James beat out a field of tough competitors, including favorites likes the Chicago Cubs, Michael Phelps, Jimmie Johnson and Steph Curry.

While 2016 has been considered a rough year overall in the U.S., thanks to strained relations with police, a bitter presidential election and a seemingly staggering number of celebrity deaths (some of which even reached the sports world), sports has been one facet of our lives that shone brightly in the last 12 months, thanks in no small part to James’ and the Cubs’ ending such high-profile championship droughts, as well as Peyton Manning calling it a career after winning the Super Bowl.

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