LeBron James Has Launched A School For At-Risk Kids In Cleveland

"This means everything."

LeBron James Has Launched A School For At-Risk Kids In Cleveland Image: AP

LeBron James stood on a stage near one of the streets he walked as a troubled kid and looked out at thousands of faces. He felt connected to every one of them.

While his three-year-old daughter, Zhuri, played at his feet, James watched as his mother, Gloria, raised a flag in front of a school that is perhaps his greatest triumph.

His incredible life. Full circle.

Before leaving for Los Angeles, James gave his hometown a gift.

James, who ended his second NBA stint with Cleveland earlier this month by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, on Monday opened his I Promise School.

It is a year-round learning centre devoted to some of the city's most challenged youngsters.

For James, who recalled missing 82 days of school as a fourth grader while he and his mum "looked for stability," the opening culminated years of planning by his family foundation.

"This means everything," James told The Associated Press in an interview before the public event.

"I think this is the greatest accomplishment for me because it's not just me...

"But these kids, this is for generation after generation after generation and it's for these kids; so it means everything."

It was an emotional day for James, who made his first comments since signing the $154 million deal with the Lakers.

The 33-year-old superstar said the decision to leave Cleveland again was difficult but he didn't rule out a second homecoming with the Cavaliers.

"Listen, I don't close the chapter on anything or close the book on anything," James said when asked if he would return to Cleveland to end his career.

"But hopefully I can sit there one day and watch my jersey go up into the rafters, that's for sure."

James led the Cavs to an NBA title in 2016, ending Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, and to four straight Finals.

He didn't offer many details about what prompted him to sign with the Lakers but the lure of playing for one of the most successful franchises in all of sports was more than intriguing.

"There's no reason you should become a Laker, became a Yankee, become part of Man U (Manchester United), become part of some franchise or clubs and you don't think about winning championships or winning at the highest level," James said.

"That's what the history is all about."

James has his work cut out for him in Los Angeles in a western conference stacked with quality opposition.

"What my expectations are for the team, we don't have any right now," James said.

"But we're definitely going to be better than we were the previous year."

His next journey will take him thousands of miles from home.

But as James reminded students, family and friends in the closing moments of his remarks, he'll never be far away.

"No matter if I'm playing in Los Angles or not, Akron Ohio is always home for me," he told the crowd.

- AAP

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