Monday marked the first day of school for the 240 at-risk Ohio youths attending LeBron James’s I Promise School. Beyond the fact that getting permission to build a school is a great deal of work, what James is offering students who attend is totally unprecedented. Not only will the kids get free access to uniforms and educational materials, but James has also gifted each of them a free bicycle. Why was James so insistent on each student having a bike? Because having a bike helped him a lot as a child.
Per SB Nation, growing up, James saw his bicycle as an escape. James was raised in Akron by his mom and they often lived in dangerous neighborhoods but, according to James, having a bike allowed him to stay out of trouble and instead focus on basketball. So now that he has opened up a school of his own, James made it a priority to ensure that every student would have a bike of their own.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that biking is just a huge hobby for James. In 2012, James made headlines when he made it known that he actually biked from his Miami house to most of the Heat’s home games. But beyond his own affinity for cycling, James insists on giving the bikes to students at the school as part of his effort to create an educational environment that is all-encompassing.
“I think the missing link in public education is that family wraparound support,” said Brandi Davis, the school’s principal. “Because our students come to school and they’re worried about things at home. … We want to create that safe, that secure and that caring and loving environment for our families and our students so that our kids can focus on education.”
That wrap around support doesn’t just mean free bikes. The I Promise school year runs for much longer than the average school year and students will also have greater access to their teachers and staff outside of the classroom.