NBA Superstar LeBron James was the latest in a long list of high-profile blacks to be attacked by President Trump on Twitter. Trump insulted James’ intelligence in a tweet bashing an interview he did with CNN’s Don Lemon.
The President’s timing for his James attack is baffling. The Lakers forward opened a new school for kids in his hometown of Akron earlier in the week. James’ “I Promise” School is just the latest in a long line of philanthropic and business initiatives James has launched since entering the league.
His basketball acumen is arguably the best in the NBA. But his business acumen and IQ places him among the captains of industry.
Here are some of 33-year-old’s top accomplishments away from the sport of basketball.
“I Promise” School
James partnered with Akron Public Schools in designing the state-of-the-art institute. The school opened July 30th for 240 at-risk third and fourth graders. “I Promise” says it will provide an innovative, STEM-focused and experiential learning-based approach to urban public education. It will also have a longer school year and longer school days to accelerate learning. Amenities at the institution include free tuition, uniforms, breakfast, lunch and bikes for all of the students. Transportation is also free for students who live more than two miles away.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 30, 2018
Pictures of LeBron James’ I Promise School, which opened in Akron, Ohio today. pic.twitter.com/dOZtwWL8L7
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 30, 2018
The school says it is also offering family access to a food pantry, along with job placement and GED services for parents. James says the school will expand to first through eighth grade by 2022.
The LeBron James Family Foundation
Founded in 2004, the Foundation says its mission is to improve the lives of children and young adults through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. In 2015, James’ foundation announced it earmarked $41 million to cover college tuition for kids in Akron.
According to Business Insider, students who’ve held at least a 3.0 GPA by their senior year of high school will be offered a full-ride to the University of Akron. Since 2010, the foundation has mentored more than 1,100 students from third grade through the rest of their schooling. Approximately 1000 students were on track to receive the scholarship in 2016, with the first eligible class graduating high school in 2021. The scholarship offer also extends to students who enroll at the “I Promise School.” The University of Akron has since renamed its school of education after James.
Along with the university and Akron Public Schools, the foundation also has partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Sebco Books and Little Tikes. The organization says it awarded approximately $16,000 in groceries to families between August of 2016 and July of 2017. The group also funded after-school initiatives for all Akron public schools that did not have programs in place, while serving hot meals for 500 families at monthly organization meetings during the same time period. The foundation also teamed with James’ longtime friend Maverick Carter to donate $2.5 million to the Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture
James launched the digital media outlet with Carter in 2014. Uninterrupted offers fans a unique first-hand perspective from professional athletes through mostly video and podcasts services. In 2015, Uninterrupted partnered with Time Warner after the company made a $15.8 million investment. Some of the players featured heavily on the platform include Draymond Green, CC Sabathia, Joe Thomas, and Channing Frye. The company’s YouTube channel has garnered more than 38 million views.
James and Carter partnered to start a production company in Los Angeles. The company signed a deal with Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2015, giving James creative input for projects in television, film and original digital content. NBC’s popular game show “The Wall,” the History Channel’s civil rights documentary “Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America,” and the former Starz dramedy “Survivor’s Remorse” are among the shows James’ company has already produced.
Showtime announced yesterday that James will also serve as the executive producer on the three-part documentary “Shut Up and Dribble.” The series takes a close look at the changing role of athletes in the current political climate. Its title quotes an infamous insult conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham directed at James for criticizing Trump in February.
July was also a big month for James’ entertainment ventures. SpringHill announced last week it was teaming up with Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer to bring a series on the life of black entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker to Netflix. Earlier in the month, Paramount inked James to star in a comedy film to be produced by SpringHill. James received wide praise for his first acting appearance in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck.” He is set to make his cartoon debut in the animated film “Smallfoot” this September.
Some of the SpringHill’s future projects in development include a remake of “House Party,” and a Muhammad Ali documentary. James and the company have also been long linked to a sequel of Michael Jordan’s “Space Jam.” In February, Carter said the movie was “a ways off.” But The Wrap reported last week that Terence Nance is close to signing on to be the film’s director.
James bought a two percent stake in the soccer club when he made a $6.5 million investment in 2011. The move came about through a joint venture between James’ marketing company, LRMR and Fenway Sports Partners, the owners of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox. After defeating AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League semifinals this year, the team earned a $100 million bonus run for its dramatic run to the Final. James is also cashing in on the team’s success. ESPN reported the value of James’ investment ballooned to $32 million over the course of seven years.
James invested $1 million in the California-based pizza chain in 2012. At the time, the company had only recently opened two establishments. Since James’ involvement, Blaze went from two restaurants to 200 across the U.S.in four years—making it the fastest-growing chain in the history of American Food Service. There are now more than 270 locations in 40 states.
James took a risk in 2015 by backing out of his endorsement deal worth $15 million with McDonald’s to go all-in with Blaze. So far, that gamble has paid off. James’ stake in the fast, casual chain is now reportedly worth at least $35 million. He owns 10 percent of the company and at least 17 franchises.
James’ Other Endorsements
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