I know that I am tough and hard on LeBron James a lot on the site and the podcast. But, I am also very up front with how great I think he is, how good of a person he is, all the great things he does on and off the court, how vocal and open with his politics he is, how much to has lived up to the hype, and then some, basically, I may harp on him, but I think he is a once in a lifetime talent and person. Today though, I want to only heap tons and tons of praise on him.
With the opening of his new school in Akron, I am just so pleased and thrilled with the news. I love this. I love when athletes give back to their community. James had a rough childhood, and he wants to make things better for kids in his hometown. He didn't have to do this, especially since he just left Cleveland and signed with the Lakers. He also could have waited, a la Jalen Rose, until after basketball to do this. He also could have done it in any city he wanted. But, he chose his hometown. I love it. He is giving back, and when mega star athletes give back, I have nothing but good things to say.
An act like this makes me realize that some athletes have a heart and soul, that they aren't just in it for the money, that they realize where they came from, and want to help. Jalen Rose did this in Detroit, and JRLA is a thriving school in a not so thriving area. I feel like James will accomplish this with his school in Akron. I was doing research on this new school for this piece today, and I was blown away at all the stuff I saw that the school will do. Things like free tuition, free uniforms, free bikes and helmets, free transportation within 2 miles, free breakfast, lunch and snack, a food pantry for families, GED and job placements services for parents and guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for EVERY student that graduates.
All of that is absolutely incredible. Free tuition is just amazing. That is my dream for college for my kids. The fact that LeBron is doing it for underprivileged kids in Akron is truly remarkable. Free uniforms are great. I knew kids that went to private schools, and their uniforms were wildly expensive. This is wonderful. Free bikes, helmets and transportation within 2 miles, spectacular. That is so cool. If I were a kid and I was offered a free bike, with a helmet, I would have lost my mind. What a perfect gesture. Also, the transportation within 2 miles, while it doesn't sound like much on the surface, it is splendid. Two miles of free transportation is perfect for working parents who have odd hours, and need to get their kids to school on time. The free food, breakfast, lunch and snack, is stupendous. This is a big relief to parents and kids. The fact that they can go to a school where food will be hot and ready for them, I mean, that is a lifesaver. They can go have a nice breakfast and lunch, then have a snack before heading home. That is truly great. That, again, is a lifesaver. That is the epitome of giving back. It is also the epitome of helping, and reaching out to your community. The food pantry for families is so awesome. For lower class families that are struggling to make a living, a food pantry is one of the best things that could happen I imagine. That the whole family can go and take what they need, I mean, how cool is that? How great is that? It is the best. The GED and job placement services is just as good as the food pantry in my opinion. He is out there trying to help people find work, and further their education. He wants these families to not only stay in their hometown, but he wants them to thrive. He wants them to get work. He wants to help them do better. He is giving them a place they can go and try to better themselves. It is just so cool and so awesome and so giving and just the best.
But the cherry on top of all of this greatness is the free tuition to any graduate to the University of Akron. I mean, that is really amazing. Kids who graduate from his school can go to college for free! Let that sink in. College is crazy expensive, and kids who graduate LeBron's new school get to go for free. That is the absolute best thing I could ever think of. He is putting a ton of his hard earned money into sending kids to college, kids that aren't his own kids. That is amazing and extremely heartfelt.
I didn't think that LeBron could do anything else to surprise me, and make me respect him even more, but he did. He may be a better person than he is a basketball player, and he is an amazing basketball player. But, this new school, his outspokenness on politics, his helping to groom his son for his future basketball career, his standing up to the bullies in D.C., it is all amazing and makes me like him even more.
LeBron James is going to go down as one of the greatest basketball players ever, but when we look back at all the things he did outside of a basketball court, I think we will remember those even more. LeBron James is a great, great man, and I have an immense amount of respect for him. My hat is off to you Mr. James, you are an exceptional person.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the best basketball writer on the internet.
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