Lebron James is an NBA superstar but also a generous philanthropist. The professional basketball player especially gives back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio. James makes a lot of money in basketball but also in endorsement deals. He never forgets his humble beginnings and is always ready to give to those in need and causes that he believes in.
When Lebron was born in Akron, Ohio on December 30, 1984, his mother Gloria was just 16 years old. She raised him well despite being so young and having to work many jobs. When Lebron was 9 years old, Gloria had him move in with Frank Waller and his family for stability. Waller was the local youth basketball coach and got Lebron interested in the sport.
Lebron excelled at basketball. He was a star player at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron where his nickname was "King James". The NBA noticed and the media promoted him as the next NBA superstar. Lebron was instantly snatched up as the first draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won Rookie of the Year in 2004, and helped lead the team to is first finals in 2007. When Lebron became a free agent, the big question was: would he stay with the Cavs?
ESPN promoted Lebrons dilemma in 2010 with a one hour special entitled "The Decision". Lebron was reluctant to do the special but decided to donate the profits to charity. Sadly for Cleveland fans, Lebron chose to play for the Miami Heat. Despite some backlash about his disloyalty to his hometown, the money from the special was a big reward because it raised more than $3 million for charity and the special was watched by 10 million people. Lebron gave most of the money to Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the country and the rest to other charities with similar interests in helping children.
Lebron had a successful run with the Miami Heat. He helped the Heat win NBA Championships in 2012 and He was named NBA MVP in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Lebron also won Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012. Happily for Cleveland, Lebron returned to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and led them to the NBA Championship win for the 2016 season.
Lebron has never let his fame go to his head. He set up the Lebron James Family Foundation. The foundation raises and donates money for several charities. These include Boys and Girls Clubs of America, After-School All-Stars, the Children's Defense Fund, Gabriel's Angle Foundation and ONEXONE.
Here are 5 of the biggest charities that Lebron James donates to.
Lebron's Foundation began the After-School All-Stars for the children of his hometown, Akron. The Foundation has raised money and donated to the charity for many years. It began as a bike-a-thon, "Wheels For Education" to raise money for children in Akron to have help with education and a place to go after school. It developed into a program to help "at risk" children of Akron in a variety of ways. The program provides mentoring and help with education as well as extracurricular activities. The goal is to keep kids in school and encourage them to graduate. It begins in the third grade when students need to reach state standards to move up to the fourth grade.
The program provides reading and math help for children who need the mentoring and discourages them from dropping out of school before graduating. Overall, Lebron's Foundation has raised over $40 million for the program. Recently, Lebon teamed with the University of Akron to provide scholarships. The children must participate in the program and parents are encouraged to participate. Lebron is very involved with the program. When he cannot be there, he connects with the children via social media. The program currently sponsors over 800 children. The first graduating class will be in 2021. The scholarship covers $9500 annual college tuition for each student. Lebron hopes to extend the program throughout the state of Ohio.
Muhammad Ali: A Force For Change
Most recently, Lebron James donated money for the exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's exhibit honoring boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The exhibit entitled "Muhammad Ali: A Force For Change" spans two parts of the museum honoring Ali, one celebrating his stellar boxing career and one celebrating his social activism. Lebron donated $2.5 million to the exhibit, joining Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in contributing. Lebrom has said that Ali was an important inspiration to him as an athlete but also as a champion of justice. Lebron admired the boxing legend, who passed away in June 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, for Ali's passion, goals and morals during and after the civil rights movement.
Boys and Girls Club of America
Lebron James designated $2.5 million of the proceeds from ESPN's "The Decision" special to Boys and Girls Clubs of America. While in Miami, Lebron was very involved in Miami's club. The club helps give all children equal opportunities and provides after school mentoring and activities. Lebron and his wife designed and donated furniture to the Miami club through Home Court Furniture. They replaced the roof and fixed up the children's work space. They donated 1000 new computers to 59 Boys and Girls Clubs throughout America.
Children's Defense Fund
The Children's Defense Fund started in 1973. Its purpose is to be a voice for children's rights and make sure that all children are treated equally and fairly. Lebron James' Foundation is a major contributor to the non profit organization. As with the After-School All-Stars, the program focuses on "at risk" children who come from poor backgrounds and helps these children complete their education.
ONEXONE also focuses on the support of children. Their mission includes taking care of children by helping them with the 5 pillars: hunger, health, education, water and play. Like After-School All-Stars, the organization uses donations to provide help to those children who need it and encourages them by giving them hope and a sense of pride. The program provides healthy breakfasts in schools, water, medical help, educational help and after school activities. As with most of Lebron's charitable causes, he especially gives back to the children. His Foundation is a major donator to ONEXONE. Clearly, Lebron James never forgot the humble beginnings he came from. Without the help and encouragement of mentors like his mother and the Waller family, Lebron may not have had the opportunity to achieve the success he has. His talent as a basketball player and his humanitarian spirit have inspired Lebron to give back. He never let his ego get in the way of giving back to those who inspired him and to the children.
The I Promise School
Most recently James is made headlines because he built his brand new I Promise School for at-risk youth in his home town of Akron, Ohio. The news isn't surprising, as James has proved how much he values education. This the same guy who paid for 1,000 kids to attend college and started “Wheels for Education,” a program that provides school supplies, access to computers and even bicycles to low-income kids.
"We want every kid that walks through this school to be inspired, to come ... away with something, something where they can give back," James said in a CNN interview with Don Lemon. "For kids, in general, all they want to know is that someone cares. And when they walk through that door, I hope they know that someone cares."
Written by Garrett Parker
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