By investing in children and their future, James is proving that as great of a basketball player as he is – and he may be the best ever – he’s an even better human being.
LeBron James nearly became a statistic as a dropout during his childhood. Instead, he went on to put up gaudy statistics in the NBA.
Now that he has the means to help keep kids from a similar pitfall, he’s doing everything he can.
On Monday, LeBron opened up the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio – an elementary school for 240 at-risk students.
The school is initially beginning with third and and fourth grade, and has a longer school day and longer school year than the normal public school to accelerate its students’ development.
The list of what the school offers is long and meaningful: free tuition; free uniforms; free transportation within two miles; free breakfast, lunch and snacks; college tuition for every graduating student; food pantry for families; GEDs and job placement services for parents; and a free bicycle and helmet.
There’s nothing half-way about the initiative. It isn’t a charter school – it’s a public school that’s partnered with the Akron Public Schools system, meaning it has structure and a curriculum that meets educational standards.
James didn’t have to do this. Physically, obviously. No one was forcing him. But he didn’t have to do it to have a positive impact off the court. He’s already done that as one of the most socially-aware superstars in sport.
From speaking out against social injustice, to paying for kids to attend college, to openly denouncing United States President Donald Trump, LeBron has been nothing short of a role model.
But he opened up this school anyways because he truly believes in the importance of what he’s doing. By investing in children and their future, James is proving that as great of a basketball player as he is – and he may be the best ever – he’s an even better human being.
The school is also a reminder that regardless of where LeBron is playing and no matter how Hollywood he gets, his heart will always be in Akron.
The championship he delivered to Cleveland and Ohio two years ago is the single greatest sporting achievement the region has ever seen, but his contributions to the community were never limited to a title and never will be.
Legacy is a word that’s tossed around plenty when LeBron’s name comes up, as is the case with other great athletes. But as passionately we discuss his standing in the history of basketball, we’ll never have to question his reputation as a person.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 10, 20 or 50 years down the road – even at this very moment, that’s more important than anything else.