We all make the promise: the promise to buy our parents a home, the promise to repay the teacher that changed our perception of the world, and the promise to give back to the community that raised us. We intend to do all this once we succeed of course. This past summer, Lebron James, professional basketball player, kept his promise.
James, born in Akron, has brought his home state of Ohio extreme pride through his recent championship title with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, his efforts surpassed his athletic ability to fuel his intellectual nature in alliance with the Akron Public Schools system. The Lebron James Family Foundation has opened a school for 240 at-risk third and fourth graders in Akron, Ohio.
These students are selected based on low economic income and disadvantaged backgrounds. According to CNN, students will receive:
· Free tuition
· Free uniforms
· Free breakfast, lunch, and snacks
· Free transportation within 2 miles
· A free bicycle and helmet
· Access to a food pantry for their family
· Guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron
Additionally, James’ outreach helps the parents of students by connecting them with job-finding services and assistance in earning their GEDs.
James plans to expand the school in the future from first to eighth grade by 2022. His excitement for the opening of his new school in July was evident in his recent tweet, in which James states:
“The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams…”
In an interview with CNN, James shared, “For kids in general, all they want to know is someone cares. And when they walk through that door I hope they know that someone cares.” The I Promise School demonstrates James’ recent involvement in social issues, including his outspoken stance against racism and call for equality, supporting Nike’s newly publicized relationship with Colin Kaepernick.
However, not all audiences have positively received James’ stance. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to display his response to James’ criticism, saying, “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham also took fault with James’ critical words, responding, “This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school early to join the NBA. It’s always unwise to seek political advices from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.” She then implored James to “shut up and dribble.”
James took to Instagram to share with his 41.5 million followers that he is “more than an athlete” with the hashtag #wewillnotshutupanddribble.
Despite her husband’s negative response, Melania Trump contradicted President Donald Trump by praising James for his charitable contributions. She even shared with James that she would be open to visiting the school in the future.
Other outspoken supporters of James’ recent actions include former First Lady Michelle Obama. She commended James on Twitter as a role model for “using his platform for good.”
Because of his multi-million dollar and immense time commitment to the project, it appears this is just the beginning of James’ impact. James told CNN, “We want every kid to walk through this school to be inspired, to come… away with something. Something where they can give back.” He kept his promise to give back. Now, he is affording a new generation the opportunity to keep theirs.