LeBron James, DICK’s Sporting Goods to Build New Gym at I PROMISE School

While the NBA playoffs rage on and the Los Angeles Lakers work to get their house in order, LeBron James has kept busy by giving back. This past Friday, the 34-year-old All-Star returned to his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to surprise students from his I PROMISE School (IPS) with a special announcement at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, where he first emerged as a prep phenom.

That announcement? That IPS will soon have a brand-new gym for physical education and after-school activities, funded by $1 million from a Sports Matter grant through the DICK's Sporting Goods Foundation.

“To my kids, this is more than a gym,” LeBron said. “The DICK’S Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities—an opportunity to play and learn in a safe place that many don’t have access to. I can’t imagine where my friends and I would be if it weren’t for the coaches and teachers who cared about us and the opportunities we had.

The upcoming upgrade in facilities will help to cap a remarkable first year for the IPS. Ninety percent of the school’s students—240 of the most at-risk third- and fourth-graders in Akron Public Schools—met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, and outpaced their peers across the district therein.

The addition of the gym should only aid that upward trajectory. According to The Aspen Institute Project Play, physically active kids have up to 40 percent higher test scores and are less likely to engage in risky activities.

“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning,” LeBron added. “DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believes in the opportunities and values sports provide, and I’ve experienced that at every level. I saw it growing up with my teammates and I see it with my kids now. The benefits of playing sports can extend to every aspect of your life, and I’m excited we’re able to provide a space for that growth at the I PROMISE School.”

 

Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.