LeBron James is one of the best basketball players to ever walk planet Earth. There is no getting around that. No matter where you stand on his place in the history of the game, The King has made his mark on the NBA for better. You would be hard pressed to argue against LeBron being a top five player of all time, maybe even top two.
He has been a model of consistency and impacted his teams for better since the moment he stepped on the court. He has also been able to make millions upon millions in salary, endorsements and business deals. LeBron has as much business acumen as maybe any NBA player not named Michael Jordon.
That’s why it’s not surprising to see LeBron giving back to his community of Akron, Ohio. The LeBron James Family Foundation announced a plan to open a school there earlier in the year for students who might “otherwise be left behind,” according to the Associated Press.
James, who has been committed to helping kids in his hometown through a variety of educational programs, is teaming up with Akron public schools to open the “I Promise School” dedicated to aiding at-risk children who might otherwise be left behind.
“This school is so important to me because our vision is to create a place for the kids in Akron who need it most — those that could fall through the cracks if we don’t do something,” James said. “We’ve learned over the years what works and what motivates them, and now we can bring all of that together in one place along with the right resources and experts. If we get to them early enough, we can hopefully keep them on the right track to a bigger and brighter future for themselves and their families.”
The school, which will be backed by James’ family foundation, will open in the fall of 2018 and focus on children in third and fourth grades. By 2022, the school will expand to accommodate students in grades one through eight.
It’s the latest initiative by the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, whose programs have supported 1,100 kids over the past six years. Details are still being finalized on the new school by committees comprised of area leaders, educators, parents and other experts.
“We are excited about the potential of the I Promise School to provide specialized programming and invaluable resources for our students,” said David James, superintendent of Akron’s Public Schools. “We’ve seen the positive influence of the LeBron James Family Foundation on our students and we look forward to continuing to do everything we can to put our students in a position to be successful.”
The town and state have had a roller coaster relationship since James joined the league. He took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 and was on the brink of several other appearances before leaving to join the Miami Heat.
Some fans burned his jersey. Some fans hated him. Some swore him off for life. Fans are fickle. But LeBron made it all better when he returned to Cleveland and brought the team a championship in 2016, the first in 50+ years for the city.
The Cavs are currently on a nine-game winning streak thanks mostly due to LeBron James taking over games. They struggled out of the gates and there were thoughts, especially with Kyrie Irving‘s Boston Celtics on a tear, that LeBron might miss the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. He is putting that notion to rest.
The Akron school board recently OK-ed the plan for the school, to which LeBron couldn’t contain his excitement on Twitter.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 29, 2017
From the USA Today article:
The LeBron James Family Foundation says the “I Promise” School in Akron will be geared toward educating students who are at risk of falling behind. It will have longer days and begin classes in the summer — weeks before other district schools — to encourage information retention.
It’s scheduled to open next fall for third- and fourth-graders and add more grade levels in future years.
The idea is based on the foundation’s existing “I Promise” programs that encourage struggling students to stay in school.
Supporters cheered after the Akron School Board approved the school’s plan Monday.
Despite all of his accomplishments, he says opening a school in Akron is the “most important” accomplishment in his life. Here is the transcript from the video above:
“You’ve kind of mentioned it, alluded to it, the gravity of actually opening a school, does this feel like…the most important thing you’ve ever done?”
“It is,” LeBron cuts off the reporter abruptly. “Besides having three kids, marrying my wife, putting my mom in a position where she never has to worry about anything again for the rest of her life, this is right up there. Championships, MVPs … points, rebounds and assists… that stuff is, whatever.”
“For me to be able to open up a school and give back to my inner city, for so many kids that I know because I was those kids, I walked those streets and it was just like, there’s no way I was going to get out of that situation, and I just thought about that every day. I had dreams and I had mentors that allowed my dreams to become who I am today.”
“People can talk about everything else besides that, but they will never take away what I’m able to do for my home time and people all the way around the world. That means to me more than anything. The basketball thing, it is fun, I love it and I enjoy it. But to be able to give back and open up a school, that’s something that will last way beyond my years [of basketball].”
For a guy who has won three NBA Finals MVPs, four regular season MVPs, three NBA Championships, is an 11-time First-Team All NBA, 13-time All Star and the face of the NBA for the last decade, that is certainly saying a lot. It speaks to the quality of character LeBron has always had, even if you didn’t like the way he left Cleveland the first time around.