LeBron James took his talents to CNN and ESPN on Monday to promote the opening of his passion project – an elementary school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
During his interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, the conversation expanded to include race and politics in the United States. The NBA superstar took the opportunity to sound off on Donald Trump, and accused him of using race to divide the country.
“We’re in a position right now in America where this whole race thing is taking over. One, because I believe our president is trying to divide us,” James said. “He’s dividing us, and what I’ve noticed over the last few months is that he’s kind of used sport to kind of divide us. That’s something that I can’t relate to, because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white. I got an opportunity to see them and learn about them, and they got an opportunity to learn about me, and we became very good friends. I was like this is all because of sports. And sports has never been something that divided people. It’s always been something that brings someone together.”
The joint venture between his foundation and Akron Public Schools will operate with a longer-than-normal school year, with a focus on accelerated learning to bring kids up to speed who otherwise might be lagging. In addition, there is a focus on combating factors outside of the classroom that could cause children to struggle.
The school also provides services to families, which include job placement assistance for parents and an on-site food bank that will allow parents to pick out foods they can prepare at home.
LeBron James often credits his bicycle as a huge factor in his childhood that gave him an escape from dangerous parts of his neighborhood and the freedom to explore — every student will receive a bicycle when they arrive.
View his speech to the school’s first students below:
“Know no matter if I’m playing in Los Angeles or not, Akron, Ohio is always home for me. Always.”
The @LJFamFoundation I Promise School opens today in Akron. In the lobby is 114 game worn shoes that people have bought with one shoe coming here, the buyer keeping the other and all the money going to the school.