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Microsoft, NBA star team up again

LeBron James appeared in the software giant's TV ads. The new venture is a website about his life.

February 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

CLEVELAND — LeBron James couldn't leave Las Vegas without making one last creative move -- off the court.

Cleveland's All-Star forward capped a glitzy few days of party hopping and hoops by teaming with Microsoft Corp.'s MSN to launch lebron.msn.com, a storybook-style website about his life designed for kids and teens.

In addition to broadening his image through the venture, James is hoping the innovative website will motivate youngsters worldwide with positive messages of encouragement and his own story of perseverance.

"I've always wanted to have a place where kids can see all aspects of my personality -- where I can really talk with them about where I came from, what I do, what I have achieved in my life and what my goals are," James said. "Kids can follow me on a day-to-day basis, and I want to inspire them."

James' interest in working with kids appealed to Microsoft, which first partnered with the 22-year-old last summer as one of the sponsors of his annual King for Kids Bike-a-Thon in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The leading vote-getter for this year's All-Star game held Sunday, James appeared in TV ads for Microsoft's launch of its Windows Vista operating system. He is also the first NBA player the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has used to promote its products, and he may do more projects in the future.

For James, the partnership with Microsoft was a natural. He was already a fan of Xbox, the company's wildly popular video gaming system before adding the company to his impressive business portfolio. James has more than $150 million in endorsement deals with Nike, Sprite and other companies.

On the new website, people can watch videos to learn more about James' life on and off the basketball court. There are also places to enter contests; download pictures and other images of James; and check on his latest statistics and see how the Cavaliers are doing.

But the website's primary intent, James said, is to help educate youngsters through activities and challenges.

James, who was raised by a single mother, will offer kids practical advice from his own experiences, struggles and successes. They can then chart their progress and share stories with others.

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