The infamous words, “shut up and dribble”, spewed by TV host Laura Ingraham towards LeBron James earlier this year have become a battle cry. Those words are now society’s way of acknowledging the fact that a basketball player has the power to influence a lot more than just what happens on a basketball court. In this case, it was defending the historic opening of LeBron’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio on Monday.
Built by the LeBron James Foundation and a roster of private partners and investors, the school is for first to eighth graders with a curriculum in science, math, engineering, and technology. It will also include additional career, academic, and emotional support for families. The school year for the I Promise School will run from July 30 to May 17 and the hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
LeBron's "I Promise" School:
Free transportation within 2 miles
Free breakfast, lunch, & snacks
Guaranteed college tuition for every student who graduates
Food pantry for families
GED's and job placement services for parents
Free bicycle and helmet
— Matt Murphy (@MattMurph24) July 31, 2018
In 1993, as a fourth grader in Akron, LeBron James was essentially homeless, sleeping on the couches of family and friends, and missed 83 days of school
25 years later, in 2018, LeBron is donating over $40 million to open a school that will send hundreds of Akron kids to college pic.twitter.com/YSdZC9qZym
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) July 31, 2018
A fascinating potential follow-up to what LeBron has done is how it can trend among other high-profile athletes. If it becomes a trend for players to build schools, rec centers, hospitals, or any pillars of need in their hometown communities, the contagious positivity of basketball will be at work.
LeBron James represents the full magnitude and influence of a basketball megastar. Lately, he’s been using that influence adamantly in efforts to speak out on social and political issues and has made it clear how he feels about President Trump.
Among other things, basketball has been a platform for LeBron James, probably now more than ever. As he’s conquered the sport as a player, it’s giving him a chance to venture into other avenues. He’s putting his fingerprints on entertainment, business, the film industry, and public education.
For the best and biggest basketball player in the world to have an impact on all of these functions of society speaks to the transformative soul of the sport, and how it’s influence can be far more profound than just dribbling.
(Featured image via: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)