LeBron James has become an outspoken supporter of free speech and a willing participant in the country’s discussions about social issues. He hosted Hillary Clinton at a rally in Ohio last year and blasted Donal Trump on Twitter this year.

Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has become the biggest lightning rod for the intersection of sports and politics in America. And for his efforts in bringing awareness to the nation’s police officers poor treatment of African Americans, he hasn’t played a single down of football since January.

James has paid close attention to Kaepernick’s situation. He discussed Kaep’s influence in a wide-ranging interview with ESPN, published today. His quotes:

“The only reason I could say he’s not on a team is because the way he took a knee,” James said. “That’s the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks — first string, second team, third team quarterbacks — that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kaep is better than a lot of those guys. Let’s just be honest.”

 

“I’ve commended Kaep and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him,” James continued. “Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn’t see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature. When it’s something that’s new and it’s something that people are not educated about or don’t understand what your beliefs are all about and people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you’re doing is wrong. For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he’s done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that.”

h/t ESPN