NBA champ LeBron James is celebrating his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers with an announcement sure to bring hope to thousands of kids from his hometown of Akron, Ohio. James has partnered with the University of Akron to give full four-year scholarships to qualifying Akron teens.
This isn't the first time James, the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA champion, has given back to his community. He has raised millions of dollars for local Boys & Girls Clubs and his work with the LeBron James Family Foundation has helped keep thousands of kids in school.
Now, as part of James' new initiative, he will offer full scholarships to Akron teens who complete his "I Promise" program. The scholarship will cover tuition plus university fees.
"These students have big dreams, and I'm happy to do everything I can to help them get there," James said during an event for students at Cedar Point Amusement Park. "They're going to have to earn it, but I'm excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.''
In order to qualify, the students will have to graduate high school within Akron's public school system, receive high scores on the schools' standardized tests, and fulfill a community service obligation. The students will also need to complete James' "I Promise" program which includes a series of nine promises ranging from "I promise to be a leader" to "I promise to accept the challenge to finish school." Currently, there are 1,100 students enrolled in the program.
“This is very special to me," said James. "As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African American kid, you don't really think past high school because it’s not possible or your family can't support you. For us to be able to do something like this … it means so much,” he added.
The scholarship program is no small commitment, as Hayley Byrnes, commentator for SB Nation, noted in this tweet:
1100 kids x $9500 x 4 years = $41.8million #math— Hayley Byrnes (@HayleyByrnes) August 14, 2015
The Class of 2012 is the first that will be eligible for the scholarships. That's when this year's seventh-graders will finish high school and be ready for the next phase of their lives. Thanks to James, that phase can now include college, and hopefully many more good things beyond.