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LeBron James donating $2.5M to Muhammad Ali exhibit at Smithsonian

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WASHINGTON — A longtime admirer of Muhammad Ali, LeBron James said he jumped at the opportunity to support an exhibit honoring the life of the boxing giant at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring — what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor,” James told USA TODAY Sports in an exclusive interview about the exhibit.

“I think of him every day. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today talking to you about it.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers star, his charitable foundation and James’ business partner Maverick Carter are donating a total of $2.5 million to the new exhibit, “Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change.” They join the list of founding donors to the museum that includes two NBA Hall of Famers. Michael Jordan donated $5 million. Magic Johnson and his wife Cookie donated at least $1 million.

The growth and importance of James’ foundation parallels his personal growth. During the early years of his foundation, James gave away bikes to Akron-area students. He said he quickly realized that wasn’t enough.

That morphed into Wheels for Education, a program that works with third-graders in Akron to keep them on target to get high school diplomas. The foundation provides laptops, backpacks with school supplies and bikes. But that wasn’t enough either.

In 2015, James announced a program that will give students enrolled in his foundation’s academic program a four-year scholarship to the University of Akron. The first group of those students are currently in the eighth grade and need to meet academic and community service requirements to qualify.

Last month, the foundation established the I Promise Institute, aimed at making the transition to college life easier for students and their parents.

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Hudson-Odoi agrees new contract for Chelsea

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Chelsea striker Callum Hudson-Odoi has silenced speculation by signing a new five-year deal with Chelsea.

A deal understood to be worth more than £120,000 a week.

The contract ends months of speculation about the 18-year-old England winger’s future.

In January, Hudson-Odoi handed in a transfer request after Chelsea rejected a £35m bid from Bayern Munich.

But the teenager received assurances about his future from new manager Frank Lampard in the summer, and indicated then he was ready to commit his future.

He is set to return to the first team after recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in April.

Hudson -Odoi says, it has been a long wait but it’s done now and I’m really happy about that, “I’ve been a Chelsea player since I was eight and this is the right club for me to be at.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Ruthless Liverpool suffer defeat on Champion league opener

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The holders Liverpool suffer its first defeat against Napoli after Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente struck late to earn Napoli a 2-0 win at home.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men won the corresponding fixture last term with Mertens’ spot-kick and Llorente’s injury-time goal enough to ensure history was repeated in the Group E clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.

Andy Robertson was deemed to have tripped Jose Callejon in the box and, after VAR ratified the penalty decision, Mertens squeezed his penalty past Adrian in the 82nd minute.

Liverpool rode their luck in reaching the knockout rounds in 2018-19 and Jurgen Klopp’s men will again have to bounce back from an away loss to Napoli this year after Llorente’s first goal for the club sealed all three points.

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