LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers forward and three-time NBA champ, didn’t join the Democratic presidential nominee onstage at her rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday afternoon to make the case against her Republican rival Donald Trump. James was there to make the case for Hillary Clinton.
“Thank you for the applause, I mean, I know you guys are excited to see her, I didn’t know you guys would be excited to see me, too,” the basketball star, who has a popularity in the crucial swing state of Ohio enviable to any national political figure, told the cheering crowd.
“You guys know why I’m here,” he continued, reaffirming that he supports “Hillary and what she believes in.” (James was also present onstage with fellow Cleveland Cavalier and Clinton supporter J. R. Smith.)
“I want people to understand, now, I grew up in an inner city, and I know the whole notion of getting out and voting,” he said at Sunday’s Clinton campaign event. “I was around a community that was like, ‘Our vote doesn’t matter.’ But it really does. It really, really does. We have to get out and make sure we vote."
“We have to get out and be knowledgeable about what is going on, about what we see that our future entails—and this woman, right here, has the brightest future for our world,” James told the audience, before introducing the Democratic nominee. “As much as you guys would love to hear [more] from me, I would much rather love to hear from our next president…Hillary Clinton.”
Sunday’s get-out-the-vote rally was James’s first appearance with Clinton on the campaign trail. New York Magazine reported on Friday that the two had never even met previously.
Early last month, James formally endorsed Clinton for president, with an op-ed that ran on Business Insider and in the Akron Beacon Journal, emphasizing that one of his main reasons for doing so was because he believed she would build on the legacy of “my good friend” President Obama.
James did not call out Trump by name in the op-ed, either.
“When I look at this year’s presidential race, it’s clear which candidate believes the same thing,” the piece reads. “Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.”
James also laid out how he thought Clinton is the best choice for improving public education, expanding access to health care, making college “a reality for more people in America,” and addressing the violence “of every kind” in black communities.
James, who has become increasingly political in public this election year (including with his support for the Black Lives Matter movement), is one of many high-profile celebrities who have thrown support behind Clinton, or have hit the trail for her 2016 campaign. However, Team Hillary is hoping that James’s standing in Ohio, particularly in African-American communities, can help put Clinton over the top in the Buckeye State this late in the game. (Recent polling shows Trump and Clinton neck-and-neck in Ohio just two days to Election Day.)
The Trump campaign is also deploying some of its own politically friendly star power in the dying days of this long and brutal campaign.
On Sunday evening, Trump is set to campaign in Michigan with rock star Ted Nugent, Detroit’s “Motor City Madman” who has a very public history of calling for the assassination or execution of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
“Hey Hillary [Clinton], you might want to ride one of these [guns] into the sunset, you worthless bitch," Nugent said during an infamous mid-concert rant in 2007. Separately, Nugent has insisted that a President Trump would “kick ass and take names, and that's what America needs right now.”
This Tuesday, American voters are expected to elect to the highest office either LeBron James’s candidate or Ted Nugent’s.