Donald Trump, then president-elect, was of course TIME’s Person of the Year. Nobody else neared his influence in 2016.
Rita Dove, a former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, wrote on the Cavaliers superstar:
When LeBron James, my hometown of Akron’s most famous son, takes flight to dunk, even I, a poet usually averse to battered clichés, am tempted to call it poetry in motion—if we agree that poetry can be stormy as well as smooth, thrillingly true yet downright mean as it lures you one way, pivots and drives its point home.
Who could have imagined that a basketball boy wonder, a prodigy from the projects, would bridge class and racial divides to evolve into King James of the International Courts?
By making good on his pledge to bring a championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers and by investing in the promise of future generations through his foundation, LeBron James has not only bolstered the self-esteem of his native Ohio but also become an inspiration for all Americans—proof that talent combined with passion, tenacity and decency can reinvent the possible. Poetry in motion, indeed.
LeBron is the only athlete regularly asked his opinion on all events, basketball or otherwise. His platform is huge.
And it has only gotten larger since returning to Cleveland and leading the Cavs to a championship.
He is a, as TIME labeled him, titan.