LeBron James’ foundation opens up ‘I Promise School’ in Akron, Ohio

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. (Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Monday was a big day for LeBron James.

No, not because it just about marks the one-month mark since he decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

This was something a fair bit bigger than basketball.

At 9 a.m. in Akron, Ohio, the first kids from the LeBron James Family Foundation took their first steps into the charity’s brand new school.

The brainchild of foundation executive director Michele Campbell and James himself – who reportedly said, “well, why aren’t you doing that,” when told by Campbell opening a school would make the charity’s mission that much easier – the “I Promise School” welcomed 240 at-risk third- and fourth-grade students on Monday and will look to help even more in the years to come.

The “I Promise School” is a public school similar to the one James came up through, but is much better funded and has superior facilities and supplies than what James had before.

According to the Los Angeles Times, James’ foundation was the top donor towards the construction of the school and worked with Akron Public Schools to meet all standards and regulations.

Outside of just the education the students will receive at the “I Promise School,” it’s also important to James that these students have a strong support space for them to turn to, something he found invaluable, himself, growing up.

“LeBron went to a public school,” Keith Liechty-Clifford, the co-ordinator of school improvement for Akron Public Schools, told the L.A. Times. “He went to Akron public schools. It was the community that helped him and his mother, Gloria, it was teachers, it was administrators. It was important for the foundation to help us and to look at something bigger. Look at our community and change urban education across the country.”

In a video he released Sunday on his “Uninterrupted” Facebook page, James spoke about the connection he feels to the children of northeast Ohio, and the pride he feels in opening this school.

“It’s kinda crazy right now because I’ve been sitting and thinking over the past few weeks, past couple months on what it means to open up a school and how excited I am about this possibility for me to be able to be in my hometown and be able to open up at school and to know who’s going to benefit from it,” James said in the video.

“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.”

In that same video, James also opened up about joining the Lakers and what it means to be a part of an organization with so much history.

“You look at the Lakers,” said James. “Being able to play for a historic franchise with so much history, and now being able to partner with Magic Johnson, someone I kinda like looked up to when I was younger and wanted to make no-look passes like Magic, wanted to get on the break and be ‘Showtime’ like Magic and then for it to all come to fruition at this point. I think timing is everything.”

Whether it’s on the court or off it, life seems to be pretty good right now for James.

“On one hand I got my school, which I’m blown away by, and then I have my next chapter of my personal life, being a part of the Lakers organization and continuing to do what I love to do, and that’s to play the game of basketball, so, there it is.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.