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CLEVELAND (CBSMiami/AP) – Saying that every professional athlete owes a debt of thanks boxing great Muhammad Ali, Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James is giving back to the champ who helped shape his life.

James said he will donate $2.5 million to support an exhibit honoring Muhammad Ali at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

“His legacy deserves to be studied and revered by every generation. I am honored to partner with the Smithsonian to celebrate one of the most influential figures in our nation’s history who, along with Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens, used the power of sports to advance our civil rights,” said James.

“Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change” opened in September to honor the legacy of the boxing champ, social activist and world ambassador whose contributions transcended the sports world.

The exhibit includes artifacts such as Ali’s headgear and the training robe worn at Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym. It celebrates the late champion’s achievements in community activism, resistance, politics, spirituality and culture.

James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, also is contributing to the donation.

“I am overwhelmed by the incredible generosity LeBron James has shown,” Ali’s wife, Lonnie, said. “This exhibit will enable children visiting the Smithsonian to learn more about Muhammad’s work outside of the ring, particularly his humanitarian work and stance on social justice for all people.”

Ali died in June at age 74.

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