Tony Dejak/AP
Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
October 21, 2015 11:00 PM

Marching onstage in the University of Akron’s massive Rhodes Arena to Beyoncée’s “Run the World (Girls),” Michelle Obama sealed her partnership with NBA great LeBron James on Wednesday by wrapping him in a bear hug.

To thousands of screaming teens and tweens, the first lady said, “Mr. LeBron, as you call him – I was telling Mr. LeBron that he has two huge fans in the White House. That’s me and that’s President Obama. Now, yes, [LeBron] is probably one of the greatest athletes on the planet. But we love this man because of the man he is. You know? He is stepping up so huge.”

Mrs. Obama traveled to James’s hometown of Akron, Ohio as part of her #ReachHigher mission to get kids committed to education beyond high school – especially kids who wouldn’t otherwise have someone encouraging them to apply to college, let alone helping them with applications and financial-aid forms.

“Me and LeBron, we were kids just like you. We didn’t come from places where families had a lot of money and a lot of resources,” Mrs. Obama said. “But we’re standing here today. If we can be here, we know you can be here too.”

James, the Cleveland Cavaliers star, launched this past summer a partnership with the University of Akron to provide free four-year educations to city students who qualify.

“Paid for. Done. Wow. That is a blessing,” Mrs. Obama told Wednesday’s crowd. “You’ve got college paid for. Are you going to do the work to get there?”

For his part, James told the crowd: “You kids, you guys are like the icing on the cake for me in everything that I do.”

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