AKRON, OH (AP) — LeBron James is leaving home again and leaving behind something he says is more meaningful than any of his NBA championships.
James, who this month ended his second stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, has opened a public school for challenged children in his hometown.
The NBA great admitted to having “jitters” before the opening, an event he said is “going to be one of the greatest moments — if not the greatest — of my life.”
The I Promise School initially will house 240 third- and fourth-graders. The Akron school will expand each year, adding second and fifth grades next year and will have students from grades 1-8 by 2022.
James was to be at the school Monday to welcome students and make his first public comments since deciding to join the Lakers.
James spent 11 seasons with the Cavs, winning a title in 2016 to end Cleveland’s 52-year drought without a pro sports championship. His departure ended a four-year run with the Cavs after he returned in 2014 following four seasons with the Miami Heat.
Following his eighth straight appearance in the NBA Finals, James said he was still in “championship mode” as he headed into free agency. But he’s going to a Lakers team that missed the playoffs again last season and seems years away from competing for a title in the rugged Western Conference.
James was also drawn to Los Angeles by the appeal of playing for one of the league’s most storied programs and the chance to work with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president and a player James idolized since he was a kid.
James also chose Los Angeles in part because it represents the next chapter in his life. He already owns homes there and he has a film production company in the city.