LeBron James explains why giving every student at his I Promise school a bicycle was an important, personal part of his mission

  • With the opening of LeBron James’ I Promise School, basketball’s biggest star showed how big an impact he wants his career to have off the court.
  • The school will open with 240 at-risk children, each of them receiving free uniforms, meals, and guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron, as well as a bicycle and a helmet.
  • James explained to The Wall Street Journal why providing every student with a bicycle was an important part of his mission, citing the freedom his bicycle allowed him as a child.

With the opening of the LeBron James Family Foundation I Promise School, basketball’s biggest superstar went a long way to cement his legacy beyond the sport.

The school will begin with a third and fourth grade class this year that includes 240 at-risk children, and plans to expand to educate close to 1,000 students in grades first through eighth by 2022. In addition to their grade school education, students will also receive free uniforms, free meals, a bicycle and a helmet, as well as guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron.

Speaking with Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, James explained why he felt it was important that bicycles were also included for every student at his new school, noting the freedom that his bike allowed him as a child.

“Everything I do comes from my childhood, from my growing up, and what I feel was part of my success,” James said.

He continued, as Gay writes:

“A bicycle, for me, was the only way to get around the city. If I wanted to meet some of my friends, travel across the city, go to school, play basketball-anything-the bicycle was the way I got around.”

But that was just part of it. A bicycle also represented freedom, James said.

“Me and my friends, when we got on our bikes, we would just ride,” he recalled. “Sometimes we would even get lost, because we’d be gone for so long. But there was a sense of joy and comfort. There was nothing that really could stop us. We felt like we were on top of the world.”

James had already gone above and beyond for his community in building the school and ensuring kids had a place to learn, but by giving them each a bicycle as well, it’s clear he wants his impact to go further than simply the class curriculum.