Few basketball players are as polarizing as Lebron James. Most people either love him, often holding him in high regard as some form of near-deity, while others plain out hate him — both likely because of how skilled he is.
Regardless of how you feel about James on the court, his latest endeavour is one you can’t help but respect.
James’ new docu-series, I Promise, debuted today on the streaming service Quibi. The series centres around the I Promise School which James created in his hometown of Akron, Ohio and consists of 15 episodes with each episode lasting about eight minutes long.
Aptly titled I Promise, the series follows the lives of students and teachers during the first year at the Akron public school. “The series will explore the day-to-day trials, triumphs, and life-changing impact of the school staff, students and families working together in a unique, family-first educational environment that embraces the trauma and challenges many face in Akron,” a press release for the series reads.
Now, you may be wondering, why is there a documentary about this school in particular — James’ notoriety aside. The school has taken the traditional methods of learning and educating and turned them on its head to try to implement practices that are better suited to children who have suffered trauma, with an emphasis on social, emotional learning.
In addition to the challenges students face daily, the creation of a new school with new methods is a feat in itself and not immune to challenges of its own. “I didn’t know how to create a school, but let’s figure it out, let’s learn together,” James can be heard saying in the trailer.
At its core is James’ deep attachment to the city he grew up in and a reminder that James’ came from the same place and similar circumstances as the children walking through the doors.
Students are selected via a lottery system and often come from underprivileged neighbourhoods and backgrounds that lack the stability kids need. The documentary highlights kids like Scout, who helps her mother when she suffers from epileptic seizures or Nate, who heartbreakingly remember the details of his father’s murder.
Outside of the docu-series itself, another of the I Promise School traditions James’ started is sending 23 high school students from his hometown to the host city for NBA All Star weekend, which took place earlier this year in Chicago. The group of students selected are called 330 Ambassadors — a nod to his area code of Akron.
If you like basketball or James, or you’re just a person with a heart and a mind that is interested in how positive change can effect young lives then the series is worth a watch.