NBA star LeBron James and his Family Foundation have opened a school for at-risk kids in his home town of Akron, Ohio, the I Promise school focuses on students who are lagging behind in their studies, struggle with subjects such as reading and need additional academic support.
This year, approximately 240 third- and fourth-graders will attend the school, but they hope to expand it year by year, including second and fifth graders next year until it could cover all 1-8 grades by 2022.
James, who signed for the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this year, stated: “I know these kids basically more than they know themselves.
“I walked the same streets. I rode the same bikes on the streets that they ride on. I went through the same emotions. The good, the bad, the adversity.
“Everything these kids are going through, the drugs, the violence, the guns, everything they’re going through as kids, I know.”
The school will also provide pastoral care for children, support for their parents and will have a pantry stocked with food bank donations.
Also, every student will get a bicycle on their first day of school.
This was motivated by James’ childhood story, remembering that having a bike when he was growing up enabled him to get away from the more dangerous parts of the area he grew up in.
His LeBron James Family Foundation, through which he pledged $87 million in 2015 to set up the school, hosts an annual mass participation cycling events in Akron.
While playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003-10 and again from 2014-18, the 33-year-old NBA MVP was regularly spotted cycling to and from games.
Maybe he’ll carry on that habit once he starts playing for the Lakers, so it’ll be interesting to see him negotiate the streets of Los Angeles on two wheels.