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LeBron James opens a new public school for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio

By 2022, the I Promise School will house nearly 1,000 children.

LeBron: "One of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life."
Image: Phil Long

LEBRON JAMES HAS unveiled what he’s called “the most important” project of his professional career: a school.

The I Promise School is based in James’s hometown of Akron, Ohio, and will house 240 students — 120 third-graders and 120 fourth-graders. It was built in partnership with Akron Public Schools and is for children at risk of falling behind.

By 2022, the school will house nearly 1,000 kids in grades first through eighth.

“Besides having three kids and marrying my wife, putting my mom in a position where she never has to worry about anything ever again for the rest of her life, this is right up there,” James said in November of the school. “Championships, MVPs, I mean, points, rebounds and assists, that stuff is, whatever.”

James battled poverty and homelessness growing up, at one point missing large chunks of school in fourth grade. He wanted to build a school for children like him growing up to not only provide better education but to provide better life infrastructure.

According to Cleveland.com, James’s school will look slightly different than other public schools. The hours will be from 9-5. The school year goes from 30 July to May to eliminate what experts call the ‘slide’ that occurs during summer vacation.

Through the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, the I Promise School will also help provide food for families who may not be able to provide proper nutrition. There are after-school programs to keep kids from getting into trouble when the school day ends.

Kids who graduate from high school and follow certain classroom criteria can also earn a four-year scholarship to the University of Akron, which James has also partnered with.

There is also a program for parents to earn their GEDs and continue their education.

On Sunday, James excitedly tweeted about the project.

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… big dreams for the kids in Akron to give them everything they could need to find their passion, give back to our community and change the world!!

This school is that. The people are that. Akron is that.

James isn’t the first American athlete to open a school, but he may be the most notable figure to open a public school. Some athletes have opened charter schools to varying success — Jalen Rose’s is doing well while Deion Sanders’ is not.

James’s school is aimed at reform. Some of its policies and structure could change a city and the overall school system. It might help a new generation.

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