"At the start of every school year, and repeated each morning, all students make a set of promises to themselves," the basketball player said in a video

By Sam Gillette
August 11, 2020 12:45 PM
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The basketball star with a student from his I Promise School
HarperCollins Children's Books

LeBron James is taking his message of positivity and hard work to another level with his new kid's book, I Promise.

Illustrated by Nina Mata, the picture book brings a colorful visual storyline to the types of promises kids make at his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, every day.

"The I Promise School was inspired by the big dreams of kids in my hometown and around the world," the Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, 35, said in a promotional video. "At the start of every school year, and repeated each morning, all students make a set of promises to themselves, just like those in this book. Setting goals, working hard and holding yourself accountable are the first steps to success."

The book, which published on Tuesday, features a diverse range of children who laugh, play and work together, all the while making promises to be leaders, learn and give back to the community.

HarperCollins Children's Books

James' mother, Gloria James, is a huge supporter of the school and her son's new picture book. She even performed the audiobook version!

"I Promise has the message of hope, hard work and love that everyone needs more of right now," Michele Campbell, Executive Director of the LeBron James Family Foundation told PEOPLE in a statement. "These are promises that we live every single day through our work in Akron, and they are words we hope every child and family can find inspiration in."

He added, "We want everyone who reads this book to truly believe they can change the world."

Through his LeBron James Family Foundation, James officially opened the I Promise School as an addition to the Akron Public Schools in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, in 2018.

"These kids are doing an unbelievable job, better than we all expected," James told the paper. "When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors."

The next year, his foundation made an announcement that resulted in students yelling in excitement — and their parents bursting into tears. In February, Melody Tankersley, the interim senior vice president at Kent State University, told kids in I Promise's first graduating class that they would be receiving four years of guaranteed college tuition and a year of complementary housing at the university.

The I Promise School was built to serve at-risk students, but also offers their parents an opportunity to finish high school as well as the opportunity to receive free tuition to the University of Akron upon graduation, according to ESPN.

In April 2019, the New York Times reported that the school's third and fourth graders had done amazingly well in their first round of district testing.

“You are Mr. LeBron James’ first class. His first love," Tankersley told the students, who were seated in an auditorium during a visit to Kent State, according to a video celebrating the announcement. "It all started because of you."