LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet. There is no debate. I mean, you could argue that he’s not, but you would be wrong and I would not take you seriously.
But, this post isn’t about James’ accomplishments on the court. It’s not about his EIGHT straight finals appearances, his three championships, three Finals MVP awards, four MVP awards or 14 All-Star appearances. Therefore I won’t be mentioning those things, or other accolades, like the fact that he’s the only player in history to average 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists a game. I won’t even bring those things up.
Because, LeBron is bigger than basketball. Even with a ridiculous list of career records and achievements, he considers his latest one, the opening of his “I Promise School”, to be perhaps the greatest.
LeBron James’ I Promise School
While plenty of athletes are engaged in philanthropic endeavors and regularly give back to their communities, LeBron has really invested himself into making as large of an impact as he can, specifically for underserved youth, hoping to help kids who reflect the struggles he faced growing up in Akron, Ohio.
With that goal in mind, in its first year, his new school will serve 240 third and fourth-graders who are “at-risk in reading and who are in need of additional academic intervention before falling further behind their peers” before expanding to more grades in the following years.
LeBron’s hometown is in dire need of more quality educational options, with the Akron Public Schools district receiving mostly F’s across the board on the Ohio School Report card, including in measures like “achievement”, “progress” and “gap-closing”.
While much has been made about the fact that the school will be a “traditional district school” as part of Akron Public Schools, there isn’t really anything traditional about it. LeBron’s school, which will focus on STEM curriculum, will replicate successful reforms implemented at many non-traditional schools, like an extended school day and school year, and a wide array of “wraparound” services for students and families.
Job and family services, a GED program, a food pantry, and more will be offered to assist parents, while the school will also offer an extended summer camp to keep kids involved while school is out. Students will receive laptops as well as a bike and helmet, stemming from LeBron’s memories of using get around and stay out of trouble when he was young. The cherry on top? Guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for every student who graduates.
LeBron the Activist
An amazing addition to James’ legacy of socially conscious work and activism, the “I Promise School” is certainly not the first time has given back to his community or used his platform for good.
Throughout his career, LeBron has refused to “shut up and dribble“, continuously using his status to highlight injustice and speak out on social and political issues he feels strongly about. He has previously referenced Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Jackie Robinson as inspirations, noting the importance of speaking out and not shying away from political conversation.
While some athletes have aligned themselves with President Trump and certain team owners, arguing that sports are not the “correct venue” for demonstration and protest, LeBron has taken an opposite approach, donning an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warmups following the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD, as well as commenting on other police killings, and pressuring the NBA to boot the Clippers former owner Donald Sterling following the release of his racist remarks.
One of the most influential athletes in the world, James has also previously handed over his platform of over 36 million followers to the next generation of social influencers.
With the opening of the I Promise School, named after the promises its students make, including attending school, listening to teachers, asking questions and being respectful, LeBron continues to use his status for good and to inspire little kids who he sees himself in and who see him as a bigger-than-life figure.
Watch LeBron talk about the school and his excitement to serve kids that he sees as just like him.