Showbiz

The future has arrived as hero sportsman revamps education for kids

LeBron James focuses on academic and emotional support

You might think a professional basketball player would soak up the glory of his wealth during downtime by kicking back with Vegas holidays and fast cars.

That’s not quite the case with LeBron James.

This NBA hotshot would rather change the world.

The athlete turned philanthropist kickstarted his mission nearly two decades ago back in 2004, when he established The LeBron James Family Foundation.

[Credit: LeBron James]

Since then, he has continued to chip away at his humanitarianism alongside a career on the court to recognise the importance of education and how everyone can access it.   

Named the ‘I Promise’ programme, LeBron began by working with a class of third graders (equivalent to Year 4 in the UK) at a local school in his native Akron, Ohio.

Proving to be a hit with the students, the programme continued over the years as it evolved to provide academic and emotional support for kids and their families to stay in school.

Seeing what impact this had on the little ones, LeBron went one step further and joined forces with The University of Akron in a partnership that would guarantee all of his eligible students who took part on the I Promise programme for a free, four-year college scholarship.

[Credit: LeBron James]

Yet that wasn’t enough for the sportsman, who is frequently compared to Michael Jordan.

Next, he dedicated his time to establishing the I Promise Institute on the uni campus as a round-the-clock resource centre for his students acclimatising to life after school.

Still hungry to change the face of education, LeBron knew he wanted more.

This time, he launched a brand new I Promise school, creating an innovative curriculum specifically aimed at high-risk children.

Speaking at the grand opening, LeBron said he feels deeply connected with the kids as he grew up in the area and experienced extreme poverty before he hit success.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

LeBron, 36, said: “I’m from here, a lot of emotions started to repeat in my head as I walked these streets. I remember when the McDonald’s next door opened, it was a Disneyland for us as kids.”

Ever the gift that keeps on giving, after opening his school, LeBron then went on to introduce an I Promise village where students and families are offered a safe place to stay as they work through challenges they may be facing such as homelessness or domestic violence.

The cherry on the cake is that other organisations are now wising up to LeBron’s efforts and Kent State University reached out to his foundation to offer free tuition, room, and board to his network of I Promise students, so they have a world of opportunity at their feet on leaving school.

We’re in awe of LeBron and excited to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve to slam-dunk.

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