NBA: LeBron James is Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year

USA's Lebron James (6) signals after scoring with a three point basket during a preliminary men's basketball game against Lithuania at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AP

USA's Lebron James (6) signals after scoring with a three point basket during a preliminary men's basketball game against Lithuania at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

— LeBron James of the Miami Heat is Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

James became an NBA champion for the first time in 2012, a year in which he also won his second Olympic gold medal and his third NBA MVP trophy. He's the first NBA player to win the award since Heat teammate Dwyane Wade in 2006.

Time Inc. Sports Group editor Paul Fichtenbaum said Monday that James was chosen not only for his play but also for his charitable work, especially with schoolchildren in his native Akron, Ohio.

Past winners include Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Arthur Ashe, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Michael Phelps. College basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt shared the honor last year.

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