LeBron James, as part of his partnership with State Farm Insurance Company, has started supporting the company's 26 Seconds campaign to help raise awareness about the number of high school dropouts in the country. The operation calls young people to action to address a hard-hitting statistic: every 26 seconds in the United States, a student drops out of high school.

LeBron's desire to motivate kids to finish high school and pursue higher education is a noble cause and I applaud his efforts, especially in light of the fact that he never attended college himself.

At first, I was a bit skeptical of State Farm's choice of LeBron as a spokesperson—the NBA star is a polemical figure with a controversial history.

When he first began playing in Cleveland, he was seen as a new age Michael Jordan. Here was another athlete that had that rare combination of extraordinary talent and tremendous work ethic. He was their king and Cleveland practically worshipped the ground he walked on. And yet, his decision to leave the Cavaliers for lavish South Beach dropped him from saint to devil, a figure that people everywhere, except Heat fans, began to hate.

I wonder how much his past motivated him to become the spokesman for this campaign. I don't know how much thought he put into playing college basketball and that is really not my concern. My concern is the fact he has decided to put himself into a position to use his high profile status in the NBA and the African-American community for the sake of the common good.

I imagine some of his detractors would say that since he never went to college, he is hardly in a position to endorse any message about higher education. However, I think the opposite is true; he parlayed his talent via hard work into one of the largest contracts in the NBA and has become a major inspiration since his high school days in Ohio.

If it weren't for his diligent practice in high school, he would not have been good enough to go pro. Instead, he probably would have gone to college only to play basketball, forced to put education on the back burner.

Maybe LeBron would have injured himself if he became a collegiate athlete, limiting his marketability a la Greg Oden. Maybe he would not have become as successful or as influential as he is now.

LeBron's experience shows that higher education is important, but everyone has their own timeline and college will fit into each person's life—if at all—at different times. People may criticize LeBron for skipping out on college and selling out for money, but it's easy to vilify professional athletes because they make a living out of playing a game. They are distanced from us to the point where we worship or denigrate them.

I think LeBron is trying to change his image and show that he isn't just in it all for the money; he is also focusing on helping people. This campaign won't prevent future scrutinizing of his character, but it shows development beyond the realm of athletics.