Utilizing his superstar status and money is just one way NBA standout LeBron James has chosen to positively influence the next generation of aspiring youths from his hometown to make their dreams come true. He figures that with his moral and economic support, they’ll have a higher success rate.
“These kids have the biggest dreams in the world,” stated LeBron.
The LeBron James Family Foundation’s Wheels for Education and the LeBron James Clubhouse conduct programs hosting a variety of youths ranging from elementary school-age to college-bound teens. Currently, more than 1,000 kids are enrolled in the programs. Upon completing a learning enrichment camp, they will be rewarded with bikes, helmets and clothing.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity to help out kids that do the right thing and do what they’re supposed to do,” said volunteer Cole Bever.
“They promised LeBron that they’ll listen to their teachers and live a healthy lifestyle,” said Desiree Bolden, an instructor at Akron Public Schools. “Also, they agreed to do their part and get good grades.”
Additionally, James has partnered with the University of Akron in Ohio to provide youths guaranteed four-year scholarships. James said he planned to send 1,100 kids to college. The $9,500 a year scholarship will cover the academic costs and total nearly $42 million.
“He really enjoys the program. He gets extra help throughout the school year with reading and math,” said mother Neckole Herring about her son Wilson.
“For me, playing the game of basketball has given me so much, a vehicle to give these kids hope, give them inspiration,” said James.
James has provided a safe haven where youths can learn and play, as well as be positively influenced to accomplish future aspirations.
“That donation has changed this community. We are operating at capacity. We’re running out of tables and chairs, there are so many kids coming here every day after school,” said club director James Warner.
The facility houses a reading room, game room, computer lab, state-of-the-art gym, walls embellishing James’ likeness and the popular “Kids at Art” room, where they do everything from painting to pottery.
“LeBron has a gigantic heart and he’s reached back and he wants to help as many of these kids as possible. We’re just a tool based on his generous donation to help these kids make their dreams come true,” Warner said.
“It’s the reason I do what I do,” said James. “These students have big dreams, and I’m happy to do everything I can to help them get there. They’re going to have to earn it, but I’m excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.”
“It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner-city like a lot of African-American kids, you don’t really think past high school,” said James. “You don’t really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school and then you never think past that because either it’s not possible or your family’s not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college.”