“We want every kid that walks through this school to be inspired, to come … away with something, something where they can give back”
This past Monday, Lebron James opened his I promise school for at-risk youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. James is no stranger to education, this is the same man who paid to put over 1,000 kids through college. He’s also started “Wheels for Education,” a program that provides school supplies, access to computers and even bicycles to low-income kids. James has made it a point to obliterate the notion athletes should shut up and dribble, which was absurdly ask of him by Laura Ingraham.
James sat down with Rachel Nichols of ESPN to discuss opening the school, and his new team.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet moment right now, sitting here in my school that I’m opening around these kids, around this community and then at the same time, making a switch to the other coast, being a part of the Lakers now,” James told ESPN Monday. “It’s always a tough decision when you leave home or you leave an organization that you’ve been with for multiple years.”
“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 in a statement prior to the opening of the school. “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.”
James was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio to a 16-year-old mother, Gloria Marie James. Gloria raised James on her own. When James was growing up, life was often a struggle for the family, as they moved from apartment to apartment in the poorer neighborhoods of Akron while Gloria struggled to find steady work.
James comes from a place where the kids he aims to reach and propel, can relate too. He calls opening the I Promise school “one of my biggest achievements”. Growing up James experienced similar circumstances, environments and uphill battles his students are facing. Throughout his youth, he faced poverty, lack of stability and stints of homelessness when he was a child. His small family was directly impacted by drugs and violent crime, and things crashed down on him to the point that he’d stopped attending school regularly by the time he was in fourth grade. To simply put it, he knows what these children are going through.
James understands the importance of having the tools to survive to make it in a world that may be against you. Opening I promise; which will hold 240 academically at-risk third- and fourth-graders, directly assist with changing the lives and narratives placed on kids that can not change their circumstances on their own.
“We want every kid that walks through this school to be inspired, to come … away with something, something where they can give back,” James said in a CNN interview with Don Lemon. “For kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares.”
Lebron has always been a model athlete, father, friend, everything and more since entering the NBA. You can argue where you rank James as a player on the court but please, there is nothing else you can ask of him as a man off the court. He has spoken against social injustice and made it a point not to be a stereotypical athlete. His works are far beyond the court and his legacy means more than basketball. His message should be clear for athletes moving forward. Never let someone limit you to their restrictions and compartmentalized your talent.
Thank you Lebron.