Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends and home–but for LeBron James, his connection with his hometown of Akron, Ohio is year round.
A four-time MVP, a two-time champion and a worldwide star, James has never forgotten that he, too, was once just a kid looking for a chance.
“When you come up the way he came up, and with some of the struggle’s he had in his early life, reaching those kinds of goals is kind of surreal,” said Dru Joyce, Head Coach of St. Vincent – St. Mary, LeBron’s former high school team. “So many kids who were his contemporaries have never been able to make it outside of the city of Akron, and he didn’t forget that.”
Despite leaving his native team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to join the Miami Heat back in 2010, James has always remained proud of his Akron heritage. And right at the pinnacle of global stardom, James is using his successes to influence children from around the area to fulfil their dreams.
The Akron I Promise Network, part of the LeBron James Family Foundation, is an educational charity aimed to help school children to amount to prosperous futures. James sends children personal, weekly messages via the foundation’s website, including this note on Thanksgiving:
It’s turkey time folks!
It’s a short school week for you all this week because of Thanksgiving! I used to love this time of year when I was a kid. Come to think of it, I still do! This is a great time to remember all of the people and things in your life that you are thankful for. Can you name off everything that you are thankful for this year?
I know I am thankful for my wife Savannah, my two boys Bronny & Bryce, my friends and family, and YOU GUYS too!! Make sure to tell the people closest to you how special they are to you and don’t forget your PROMISE through the holiday season!
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please wish them a Happy Thanksgiving for me!
Thankfully your friend,
Perhaps the most notorious part of LeBron’s campaign is the I PROMISE wristbands James famously sports during his games. More than just a bracelet, the I PROMISE band is part of a larger movement inspired by the Wheels for Education programme, and an embodiment of the beliefs at the core of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
The band’s focal ambition is to encourage people–particularly those of a young age–to make a personal commitment to create positive changes in their lives and the world around them.
“Hopefully they’re wearing theirs the same time that I’m wearing mine. When I’m out there performing and trying to perform at a high level, they know that they’re with me, and that’s what I wear those bands for,” James said.
As James enters free agency next season, his future in the NBA remains uncertain. Though Kobe Bryant’s $48.5 million contract extension has ended the possibility of James becoming a Laker any time soon, speculation continues to loom over a hometown return to Cleveland.
For now, we will have to continue the guessing game, but one things for sure: James’ involvement with Akron goes way beyond basketball.