LeBron leaves lasting gift, Akron 'always home'
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James stood on a stage near one of the streets he walked as a troubled kid and looked out at thousands of faces. He felt connected to every one of them.
While his 3-year-old daughter, Zhuri, played at his feet, James watched as his mother, Gloria, raised a flag in front of a school that is perhaps his greatest triumph.
His incredible life. Full circle.
Before leaving for Los Angeles, James gave his hometown quite a gift.
James, who ended his second stint with Cleveland earlier this month by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, today opened his I Promise School, a year-round learning center devoted to some of the city's most challenged youngsters – ones just like him.
For James, who recalled missing 82 days of school as a fourth-grader while he and his mom "looked for stability," the opening culminated years of planning by his family foundation.
"This means everything," James told The Associated Press in an interview before the public event. "I think this is the greatest accomplishment for me because it's not just me. A championship is for a team, that's for an organization and a city. But these kids, this is for generation after generation after generation and it's for these kids, so it means everything."
It was an emotional day for James, who also made his first comments since signing the $154 million deal with the Lakers – a move still causing tremors across in the NBA.
James recalled beating the odds of his youth when life was a daily struggle for him and his mom. Nothing was easy as the pair constantly moved and it was only with the help of others than James found structure.
Now, he's giving kids with the same problems a path.