Love him or hate him, LeBron James will go down in history as one of basketball's greatest. One of the things that makes athletes truly memorable, however, is what they do for their communities off the court, and James is no stranger to giving back.
While gearing up for a game in Atlanta this week, reporters from Cleveland.com caught up with James asking him about his new I Promise grade school.
"I don't want to say it's, like, the most important thing you've ever done, but," the reporter starts before James cuts in and finishes.
"It is," James said. "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. Championships, MVPs, I mean, points, rebounds and assists, that stuff is, whatever."
The LeBron James Family Foundation will open the I Promise School in the fall for third- and fourth-graders in the Akron Public School System who are at risk of falling behind.
James' mission with his foundation since 2010 has been to improve reading skills, and eventually graduation rates, for children in Akron Public Schools who faced the same challenges he did growing up. Many of the children who are mentored in James' foundation live, like he once did, in Akron's inner city. They also may come from single-parent households and face various social and economic barriers to learning.
"For me to be able to open up a school and give back to my inner city, so many kids that I know because I was those kids," James explained. "I walked those streets and it was just like, 'There's no way I'm going to be able to get out of this situation.' I just thought about that every day. I had dreams and I had mentors and they allowed my dreams to become who I am today."
James knows that this won't be a walk in the park, but he is doing everything he can to make sure the I Promise School serves the children and the community.
"We're gonna give them everything that they need and give them a criteria that they all can meet, depending on the individual."
James also highlights that this is the most rewarding and important part of his career, making it clear what he intends for his legacy to be.
"The basketball thing, I love it and I enjoy it, but to give back and be able to open up a school, that's something that will last way beyond my years."