Nothing Is Given, Everything Is Earned: LeBron James Makes America Great


Opening the school. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Talk about a tale of two people. Last week a small, mean, sick, vengeful bully who was born to mindless wealth and ordered brown children to be put in cages attacked a big, black, beloved star athlete born poor who for years has used his power and success to give back - hot meals, kids' programs, 1,000 computers to Boys and Girls Clubs - refused to "shut up and dribble," and now opened a model public school for at-risk kids in his home town of Akron, Ohio.


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Trump's perhaps-pettiest-yet tweet demeaning Don Lemon and LeBron James was not only met with all the vilification it deserved, including from some of his own supporters; it mightily backfired, garnering support for his targets and brutal opprobrium for his own failure as a human being, never mind so-called leader. Wait, a zillion horrified Americans essentially responded, this is the "president"?!?

Meanwhile King James - who was raised in poverty by a single teen mother, who often had to miss school as they moved around sleeping on friends' couches, and who was long aware he "didn't want to become a statistic" - opened his progressive, family-oriented, $8 million public school for kids most in need of it. A partnership of the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, I Promise - to work hard, to do my best, to dream big, etc - started with its first class of 240 3rd and 4th graders; it will eventually have over 2,000 K to 8th graders.

With a STEM, hands-on focus, it offers kids lagging in academics free tuition, uniform, bike - James explored his rough world on his - with helmet, breakfast and lunch, transportation, and extensive support including, for families, a food pantry, GED classes and job training. If kids make it through, they get free college tuition. The school's core principle is to create a safe environment "so kids learn to value education and the self-reliance it brings"; en route, it also proves the power of "truly investing in public education." For James, the key task is to show kids that "someone cares."Because he does, he, the kids, and we all win. And the loser, as usual, loses.

Update: Showtime has announced LeBron will produce a new docu-series on the place of African-American athletes in this political and cultural moment, and their fight to achieve "their piece of the American Dream." Its title, with thanks to Fox shrew Laura Ingraham: "Shut Up and Dribble." Another nod to the King for what one fan calls "God-level trolling."

James in his other element. Photo by Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

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