LeBron funding $1 million renovation of his alma mater’s gym, will help plan and design changes

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Regardless of how one feels about LeBron James in total, he’s always been remarkably generous with local charities in general, particularly in his hometown of Akron. Now he’s taking a more specific charitable step to leave a legacy at one of the seminal spots along his remarkable journey.

LeBron James is donating $1 million to his alma mater to fund a major gym refurbishment project — Getty
LeBron James is donating $1 million to his alma mater to fund a major gym refurbishment project — Getty

As reported by the Akron Beacon-Journal and a variety of other sources, James is donating $1 million to his alma mater, Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary’s School, to fund the school’s long needed renovation of its gym.

The renovations to the SVSM gymnasium will include a new playing surface, improvements to both home and visiting locker rooms and vastly upgraded bleachers. The Beacon Journal reported that lighting and heating and cooling systems would also be upgraded as part of the large-scale capital project.

As for the role James will play with the re-design, the superstar took time out from his playoff preparations to sound a note of excitement about the plans for his former school’s gym and athletic future.

“I’m a hands-on guy and this is going to be more hands-on because it’s something that means a lot to me,” James told the Beacon-Journal. “I’ll try to be hands on with Coach Dru, with the school, with the floor, the locker rooms, the bleachers. … I have a good sense of what stadiums or arenas or schools or gyms should look like.”

While the changes slated for the 54-year-old gym are voluminous, they are also expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2013-14 basketball season, ensuring that SVSM can field a true home court advantage as it returns a loaded roster for another run at a state title.

LeBron’s funding of the gym is just the latest effort by the future Hall of Famer to remain connected with his Akron roots. While the town briefly soured on the star when he departed nearby Cleveland for Miami, he stuck with his charitable efforts and steadily rebuilt his connection with the community.

As for LeBron himself -- who also committed to foot the bill for the entire SVSM athletic department to receive new, top of the line Nike uniforms in 2013-14 -- the Heat star insisted that he was committing so much money to his alma mater because the school remains a part of him.

“I’m grateful to have that support in that school, all the students and everyone,” James said. “I’m not doing it for applause or a roar from anyone. I’m doing it because it’s going to benefit the kids that are there now and in the future. It holds a special meaning for me being from Akron, Ohio, and being at that school for four years.”

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