First lady Melania Trump praised LeBron James less than a day after President Donald Trump lashed out at the NBA star on Twitter.
She also said she is open to visiting the school for underprivileged children James recently opened in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, which he said in an interview that aired last week prioritizes a holistic experience for students.
In the same interview, James said he thought Trump was using sports to sow division in the US.
Trump trashed James and CNN host Don Lemon in a tweet late Friday.
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” the president tweeted . “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Trump’s tweet prompted an outpouring of defense for James, the latest of which comes from the first lady.
In a statement released by her spokesperson Stephanie Grisham on Saturday, the first lady praised James, saying he “is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation,” and said she “encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”
The statement also references her childhood welfare initiative, “Be Best”, for which she “has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior.”
As a part of continuing her work, the statement says she “would be open to visiting” the I Promise School , which James established for students who are at risk of falling behind.
Here’s the full statement, via CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins:
This is the second recent instance of the first lady has issuing a public statement that seems to counter the president.
On July 25, Grisham replied to a report from The New York Times about the president’s apparent anger that the first lady’s TV aboard Air Force One was set to CNN, which Trump publicly attacks as “fake news.”
Though Grisham refused to comment on the report directly, she said the first lady watches ” any channel she wants. ”
Trump is holding a campaign-style rally in Lewis Center, Ohio on Saturday night.