Earlier this week, LeBron James hosted his sixth annual Bike-A-Thon in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Called Wheels for Education, an evolution of his "King for Kids" program, the event focuses on the 26 Seconds Campaign, which encourages kids to stay in school.
"Every 26 seconds, a kid drops out of high school," says LeBron. "For me to be able to use my power to shed light on the situation and be able to improve it was a no-brainer."
For the event, 360 at-risk third grade students were selected for the Wheels for Education Class of 2021. Each student will receive an HP laptop, a Nike backpack filled with school supplies, and a bike with a helmet provided by LeBron and State Farm Insurance. But the event is not all about the freebies. LeBron says, "It's about putting these kids into a program where they get to learn, they get to use these supplies, they get to use the computer, and get a head start on things."
LeBron continues to return to his hometown because of his experiences growing up in an underprivileged family in the inner city. "I went through Akron public schools until I went to high school," he says. "I understand what these kids are going through." He hopes to use his high profile position to provide inspiration for young students to stay in school and follow their dreams, just like he did.
Athletes like LeBron are not obligated to give back to their communities, but his dedication to Akron and its young students highlights the importance of being a well-rounded athlete. Providing young students with the inspiration to succeed and the tools to improve their education will have more of a long-term impact than any of his on-court achievements—which is evident when you watch a gym full of third graders scream cheers for LeBron, then listen intently to his every word.
Whether you're a high school, collegiate or professional athlete, remember this example provided by LeBron. Someone you know may need just a little push to become great, academically or athletically.
Although LeBron has been busy with off-season activities, such as Wheels for Education, he still dedicates time to improving his game. "I have been focusing on being a better player—working on my game every single day," he says. "I've dedicated this off-season to myself being a better basketball player."
When asked specifically what he's working on, the King replies, "Everything."
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock