LeBron James leaves Akron with a parting gift before dream LA move

Having done all that he could with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his second spell, LeBron James’ departure to tinsel town will hopefully not be treated as voriferiously as when he made “that decision” to leave for Miami in 2010.

And to further back this up, James’ humanitarianism will see 240 kids given a new lease of life, thanks to the LeBron James Foundation.

The ‘I Promise School’ is the culmination of nearly a decade of work by the foundation, where the focus is on educating children from challenging situations or backgrounds. For the time being, the school begins with two grades: three and four, with plans to expand the school in the coming years.

Following his poor attendance in fourth grade back in 1993, a married couple, Frank and Pam Walker took James in and encouraged him to focus on his education at a city school in Akron. In the fifth grade, James had a perfect attendance.

And the opening and name of the school is James’ constant promise to give back to the area that helped him in his time of need and moulded him to become the man that he is today. A stark contrast to eight years ago when he took his talents to south beach. LeBron openly regretted the announcement of the decision, when he left Cleveland for Miami – without meaning to – going on national television to humilate his home town. Understandably it was met with anger and disappointment by the Cavaliers fratnerity but regardless, James grew as a person in Miami, winning two NBA titles and Finals MVP awards but more importantly, he matured.

James returned to Cleveland and helped the Cavs win their first NBA title in 52 years and while LeBron was taking care of business and writing a new chapter for sport in Ohio on the court, the foundation were doing so as well off it.

And the I Promise School is just that: a new chapter for kids in Akron.

The I Promise School from the inside. Photo: ESPN

“The I Promise School has a longer school day and longer school year,” according to the ESPN report on the school.

“More than 40 staff members will attempt to accelerate the development of children who qualify for the program based on performance and socioeconomic factors.

“For those who complete the program, which has been operating for years, James has arranged for free tuition to the University of Akron starting in 2021. He also created a program for parents of the at-risk children to return to complete their high school educations, and he has planned an institute to help prepare high-school-age students for college.”

It is predicted that approximately 1,200 children will pass through the program and into college by 2029.

And unlike 2010, when James left Cleveland the first time around. On this occasion, he departs having made his mark. Thanks to LeBron, the Cavaliers have an NBA title and a lot of kids that might not have had a future, now have hopes of one.

“It’s kinda crazy right now because I’ve been sitting and thinking over the past couple of weeks and 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,” said James.

“I know these kids basically more than they know themselves. I’ve walked the same streets, I’ve rode the same bikes … I went through the same emotions, the good, the bad, The adversity, everything that these kids are going through. The drugs, the violence, the guns… everything that they’re going through as kids, I know. And for me to be in a position where I have the resources I have the finance, I have the people, I have the structure and I have the city around me, why not.”

LeBron James at the NBA Summer League, wearing Supreme Lakers shorts. Photo: Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers

The time for James to leave for the Los Angeles Lakers now is right. A historic franchise with no guidance and amongst the weaker teams in the Western Conference. LaVar Ball’s promise that his son Lonzo would get the Lakers to the Playoffs were way off. The 16-time NBA champions need LeBron.

And LeBron, in a way, needs the Lakers. It’s a new challenge and a new situation for him. A player who is used to walking into teams that have stars, this team has a future, but they need a leader. Players like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma can be stars – but they are not leaders, not even close.

Having James now fits that bill. The Lakers can now look to the Playoffs and Ball and Kuzma can truly be stars with time.

“You look at the Lakers,” James said. “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. For me to be in this position now, the excitement that I have to be a Laker, I’m happy to be apart of it because I believe the Lakers is a historical franchise, we all know that, but it’s a championship franchise and that’s what we’re trying to get back to. I’m happy to be a part of the culture and be a part of us getting back to that point.”