LeBron James surprises Ohio students with $1 million for new gym

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles reacts during a preseason game against the Denver Nuggets at Valley View Casino Center on September 30, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AKRON, Ohio — LeBron James surprised students at his I PROMISE school in Akron with $1 million grant from the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation for a brand new gym for after school sports and PE activities.

Students gathered at his alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. They had no idea James was behind the curtain to reveal the big announcement.

The basketball court and the gym are special places for James. Data shows students who are physically active and play sports have higher test scores, get better grades and are absent less at school.

“To my kids, this is more than a gym. The DICK’S Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities. An opportunity to play and learn in a safe place that many don’t have access to. I can’t imagine where my friends and I would be if it weren’t for the coaches and teachers who cared about us and the opportunities we had.

The I PROMISE was founded in partnership with Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Foundation, serving 240 of Akron’s most at-risk low incomes areas.

James’ foundation and DICK’S Sporting Goods created Sports Matter in 2014 to help address a funding crisis of youth sports programs nationwide.

“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning. DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation believes in the opportunities and values sports provide, and I’ve experienced that at every level. I saw it growing up with my teammates and I see it with my kids now. The benefits of playing sports can extend to every aspect of your life, and I’m excited we’re able to provide a space for that growth at the I PROMISE School,” James said.

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