James’ school is planned for 240 third graders and fourth graders, but has plans on expanding next year to include second and fifth graders. By 2022, the I Promise School is slated to include grades 1-to-8. The school is part fo the Akron Public School system, which James grew up through before attending Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
“This is a huge moment, not only in my life, not only in my family’s life, not only in the foundation’s life, but for these kids and for the whole city of Akron more importantly,” James said in a speech Monday. “This is a huge moment for all of us.”
James wife and daughter Zhuri attended the opening, with his mother Gloria raising the American flag at the opening ceremony.
“To all of our young people here: this is an amazing opportunity,” Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “An opportunity to grow for self-discovery. But most importantly, it’s an opportunity to help yourself and an opportunity to help others. Please take full advantage of all the wonderful people and programs that this school has to offer.”
Each student at the school also received a helmet and a bike at the opening.
“As a kid from Akron, Ohio myself, I remember walking these same streets,” James said. “…Riding my bike through the rest of the city. So, when people ask me why a school, that’s part of the reason why. Because I know exactly what these 240 kids are going through. I know the streets they walk. I know the trials and tribulations that they go through. I know the ups, the downs. I know everything that they dream about. I know all of the nightmares that they have because I’ve been there. I know exactly what they are going through. They are the reason why this school is here today.”
James was also lauded by fellow NBA stars Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade for opening the school.
“This is using your platform! Mad props and much respect my friend King James,” Wade tweeted.
“Congratulations my brother! You are a man of your word! Proud of you for chasing your dreams and in turn, giving the opportunity to hundreds of kids to realize theirs,” Paul tweeted.
The LeBron James Family Foundation was founded in 2004. The Foundation’s I Promise program provides year-round resources, incentives, mentorship opportunities, encouragement and other support to more than 1,300 students in Akron Public Schools. Those students have all been guaranteed full, four-year college scholarships if they do their part and meet the eligibility requirements, according to the foundation’s website.