LeBron James Says Athlete of the Year Award Belongs to Ohio School Kids

LeBron James
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
WARNER TODD HUSTON

LeBron James was awarded the Associated Press athlete of the year award for the third year in a row. However, the Lakers star insisted that the children at his “I Promise” school in Ohio are the ones who deserve the credit.

On December 27, the AP noted that James is again the “AP Male Athlete of the year as selected by AP members and editors.” The AP also cited the opening of his “I Promise” school.

But James deferred to the kids at his school instead, The Hill reported.

“Thank you ‘AP’ for the award. Obviously, this isn’t for me, it’s for all my @IPROMISE School kids,” James said, “kids all over the world and adults as well that allow me to talk for them, lead them, dream with them and inspire them every single day! THANK YOU.”

James was referencing his “I Promise” school opened hometown of Akron, Ohio.

The NBA player has been praised for his school, but contrary to the impression given by media coverage, he is paying a far smaller share of the costs than the media likes to assume.

The project was sold to the public as funded by James and a coalition of philanthropists he assembled to float the school. In July Money reported that “James’ family foundation will cover the costs of other extra school features, and with its partners has already contributed $2 million for building upgrades, extra staffing and other needs, the paper notes.”

It was later discovered that Akron’s taxpayers will be shelling out for as much as 75 percent of the costs for the school, a far sight more than was previously assumed.

According to Cleveland.com, “The exact breakdown of expenses for the new I Promise School is unclear… But the district will pay more than half the costs — perhaps around 75 percent — once it is fully running.”

The school itself is actually run by the city, Not James or his coalition.

“The coverage made it look like the whole thing is his,” Akron school district spokesman Mark Williamson told the media this week. “He did a lot, but taxpayers should know it’s their investment too.”

James gave $2 million, but according to reports, this sum covers only two grades and only a quarter of the total costs. The price tag will quadruple when the final costs are tabulated, the paper says. And that is just an estimate. The way city accounting often works, it is likely that taxpayers will be on the hook for far more than just an additional $6 million.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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