When you think of LeBron James, you usually think of sports— but now, he’s entering the academic realm.
This past week, Lebron James’ public school officially opened its doors to 240 third and fourth graders.
The I Promise School is in the athlete’s hometown of Akron, Ohio, and is dedicated to helping at-risk kids.
The school has been called “unusual” by Money Magazine, but mostly for the amazing perks it offers its students.
Some of these perks include a long school day, a “support circle” for students after lunch, free meals and snacks, a free bike, as well as initiatives for parents, such as GED courses and job placements. If a student successfully completes the program and graduates high school, LeBron will also cover their full tuition at the University of Akron.
The school will also offer STEM-based camps during the summer. LeBron hopes these extended hours and activities will keep the students out of trouble.
LeBron was inspired to create the I Promise School by his childhood experiences as an at-risk student.
In the fourth grade, the athlete missed 83 days of school while he and his mother slept in random bedrooms and living rooms. In an interview with ESPN, he credited his mentors for putting him on the road to success:
“They started to make my dreams feel like they could actually become a reality.”
The I Promise School specifically selected students who were performing a few years behind their peers in reading. “From that, we had more than 120 kids,” Keith Leichty, the Akron Public Schools’ liaison explained. “We had to put a cap on it so we could fit under one roof.”
“We did a random selection of all students who met that criteria and got to make these awesome phone calls to parents and say, ‘How would you like to be a part of something different, the I Promise School?”
Check out this student’s face during his first visit to the school— his expression says it all!
— COMMON (@common) July 30, 2018
Despite the fact that LeBron has won 3 NBA Championships and 4 League MVPs, he says opening the I Promise School is the greatest moment of his career.
Since opening the school, the athlete has been praised by many.
On July 31, Michelle Obama tweeted: “@BarackObama and I are so proud of @KingJames and @IPROMISESchool. Kids in Akron and across the US are lucky to have you as a role model on and off the court. Keep using your platform for good and giving our kids a chance to shoot for the stars.”
.@BarackObama and I are so proud of @KingJames and @IPROMISESchool. Kids in Akron and across the US are lucky to have you as a role model on and off the court. Keep using your platform for good and giving our kids a chance to shoot for the stars. 🌟🏀 #ReachHigher #BetterMakeRoom pic.twitter.com/hyS6UM2A7b
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) July 31, 2018
Fans have commented: “Say what you want about him on the court, but there’s no denying that @KingJames is truly a remarkable man. Delivered on a promise that will change the lives of thousands of kids.”
Unlike other “celebrity schools”, The I Promise Schoo0l is a traditional, public school— not an academy or charter foundation.
LeBron was quick to emphasize this, telling ESPN:
“It’s not a charter school, it’s not a private school, it’s a real-life school in my hometown— and this is pretty cool.”
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Source: Time via Tout