Basketball great LeBron James opens a school that can change the future of at-risk kids

One of the best basketball players in history has also become a great philanthropist in his own community.

Basketball star LeBron James has opened a school called “I Promise” in Akron, Ohio, where he was born and raised by a single mother. He went to live with a family of a local athletic coach, who introduced him to basketball when he was only nine years old.

The rest, as they say, is history. Mr. James rose to superstardom as a basketball player, and is a multi-awardee for Most Valuable Player in the NBA.

But perhaps his most powerful legacy lies in his impact on the youths who’ll be attending the “I Promise” school, a joint project of the Akron Public Schools along with the LeBron James Family Foundation. It is now open to 240 at-risk students in Grades 3 and 4.

The students will be receiving free tuition, uniforms, meals (breakfast, lunch and snacks), transportation (if they live within two miles of the school), a bicycle and helmet, as well as the availability for food for their families. And when they graduate, they will be given free tuition at the University of Akron.

Even the parents of “I Promise” students will be given assistance, such as help with getting their GED (General Education Development) certificates and  job-placement services.

Students will have more school breaks in the year, since the school seeks to promote an education that is year-round, and will have a later starting time in the day. The curriculum focuses on hands-on STEM education, concentrating on enhancing skills in problem-solving.

While “I Promise” is only open to students in Grades 3 and 4 for this initial year, the school will be offering Grades 1 to 8 by 2022.

On July 29, the day before classes at “I Promise” started for the first time, Mr. James shared his excitement on Twitter.

The basketball superstar was referring to the time in his youth when he had to miss 83 days out of the school year while his mother needed to look for work.

Prominent figures such as former First Lady Michelle Obama lauded Mr. James for opening the school.

Concerning the school, Mr. James has said, “We want every kid to walk through this school to be inspired, to come … away with something. Something where they can give back.”

This is not the first time he has taken part in addressing social justice issues, and he has become more outspoken in the last few years in speaking out against inequality and racism. For him, creating “I Promise” is all about creating change in people’s lives, “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.”