Everybody blindly throws around promises without ever following up with actions. But LeBron James, who famously followed through with his promise of bringing Cleveland its first-ever NBA championship, stepped up his game once again by building his “I Promise” school. Located at his beloved hometown of Akron, Ohio, this school is specifically constructed for at-risk kids, a status LeBron himself was no stranger to; marred by poverty, he missed 83 days of school in his fourth-grade year. Basketball was his escape from the hardships of a young black kid growing up in a poor neighborhood, and he hopes his school will be the key to freedom for others as well.
James is not only supporting the school financially, but each kid will also personally be given a bike. “A bicycle, for me, was the only way to get around the city…a bicycle represented freedom,” James said, speaking to the Wall Street Journal. “Sometimes [my friends and I] would even get lost, because we’d be gone for so long. But there was a sense of joy and comfort. We felt like we were on top of the world.”
James was universally praised by public figures for his charitable move – except for one person: Donald Trump, who instead took the opportunity to attack James’ intelligence using his weapon of choice, Twitter. Many NBA players and black figures alike immediately came rushing to the defense of James through public statements; even Michael Jordan, usually eerily quiet on political issues, broke his silence to voice support for the very man supposed to be his competitor for the ultimate throne of basketball.
Seeing the NBA brotherhood, so often divided by extensive rivalries, putting aside those differences for a common cause does warm my heart, and could merit an entirely new article itself. However, I feel like by creating an aura of negativity around the issue, Trump is desperately trying to detract from the value of James’ contributions to his community.
So let’s try to stay away from the unnecessary controversy and instead focus on the positives. James’ school is actually just an iota of a reason why he is an inspiration to people who may not even watch basketball. The way his charity connects to his hometown is just a testament to how, in spite of his fame and fortune, he doesn’t forget his roots and handles his spotlight with class and poise.
The only sadness I gather from this is how James is regarded as the exception, not the norm for possibly the most idolized and looked-up-to figures of this nation. However, there are signs that this may be shifting. James is old; he has been playing in the NBA for fifteen years now. This means that the young stars of today, despite their massive talent, were ultimately just like us – small kids watching James on the television screen in awe, hoping to one day be just like him. And hopefully, following James’ example, this fresh batch of NBA stars will learn to fight back against people like Trump by using their influence to shed light on the social issues facing our world today.
Brian Ham, Grade 10
Seoul International School