LeBron James may be leaving to play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers, but his love and loyalty for his hometown will remain a life-long commitment.
One of his biggest off-the-court accomplishments, the I PROMISE SCHOOL on West Market Street in Akron, is scheduled to open on July 30. The school is a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools.
July 30 is also the fist time James is expected to publicly answer questions about his decision to sign a four-year $154 million contract with the Lakers.
"I think it shows his commitment, no matter where he works, that this is home and the work is real," said Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
The classrooms and lockers are decorated in black, gray and white with inspiring messages, including "I PROMISE," "BELIEVE" and "WE ARE FAMILY."
The school will start with 240 third and fourth graders, but by 2022, the building will house nearly 1,000 students.
"Next year, we'll double in size, so we'll go from 240 to 480," said Keith Liechty of APS. "Each year, we're going to add another two grade levels until we're at capacity with grades one through eight."
James is also offering University of Akron scholarships to I PROMISE KIDS who keep good grades.
His generosity towards Akron over the years has also included paying for an after school tutoring program, giving millions to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and picking up the cost for new basketball courts at city recreation centers.
Pastor Stacey Jenkins, a friend to the James family, said he understands that people will miss LBJ playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but believes the majority of people in Akron are not hurt by his departure.
"He did what he said he would do. He came here for four years, brought us a championship and broke a 52-year drought," Jenkins said. "He'll always be just a kid from Akron."
Audley McGill, who was one of LeBron's first youth coaches, said the superstar will continue to give back to Akron even while he's on the west coast.
"I think a lot of us in Akron are just happy to see him do well and happy that he still supports his city, so I don't think that will ever stop," McGill said.