Updated: Aug 7, 2020
If you are into sports (or even if you aren't!), then you have probably heard of LeBron James, a professional NBA basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. I was surprised to hear that this Akron, Ohio basketball star decided to write a children's book. Titled "I Promise", the picture book is inspired by the LeBron James Family Foundation’s work in James’s hometown of Akron, including the I Promise program and the I Promise School. The book is written by James and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling artist Nina Mata.
Cleveland.com provides the following interview:
“Books have the ability to teach, inspire and bring people together,” James said in a statement. “That’s why these books, and the opportunity to get children and parents reading together, mean so much to me. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure these stories are ones that every single kid can see themselves in. ‘I PROMISE’ is powerful in that way and I can’t wait for people to read it.”
The book is based on the values of the LeBron James Family Foundation’s I Promise program, which center on the idea that “tomorrow’s success starts with the promises we make to ourselves and our community today,” the publisher said.
Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation opened the I Promise School in 2018 as a public school for some of the city’s most at-risk third-graders. A grade level has been added each year, and about 450 third- through sixth-graders are enrolled this year. The foundation funds year-round social services for students and their families, including GED programs, legal aid, medical and mental-health resources, job and family services, financial literacy programs and unlimited access to a pantry stocked with food and other essentials.
In July, the foundation opened the I Promise Village, a renovated apartment building within walking distance of the school that provides rent-free transitional housing for students and families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or other unforeseen circumstances.
Additionally, about 1,100 Akron children are in the I Promise Network and are coached, taught and mentored by the LeBron James Family Foundation. Students in the I Promise program have the opportunity to earn full-tuition scholarships to the University of Akron and Kent State University if they stick to the program’s pledge and earn their high school diploma.
“The philanthropy work that LeBron James does off the court, including the education that he’s providing to the students at the I Promise School is remarkable,” said Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “With a universal message that encourages everyone to always strive for greatness, ‘I PROMISE’ will resonate with students and readers everywhere.”