“I’m 60, but I remember prom, and I remember being poor, and I remember me and a lot of other people didn’t go to prom, because we didn’t have anything to wear. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, with other friends and athletes, were out snorkeling in the Bahamas a few years back.Some people would say, ‘Ah, prom dresses—that’s so insignificant.’ But that’s empowering, and only people who care or have walked in those shoes can understand that.”When he joins us to sit down and talk, Le Bron himself makes a point about understanding who these kids are, having been one of them, though on a sunny Saturday with his family, his inclination is not to sit down. Some, including Wade, were ocean-shy, city-born and not as strong at swimming as Le Bron. ” Union says.) Eventually, the group got out in the water, though at the end of the swim, when everyone was back in the boat, Le Bron took a count and noticed a man missing, immediately diving back in.“He literally brings our friend back, like something out of an episode of ,” Union says. ” says Savannah, laughing.“No book that can tell you about parenthood,” Le Bron continues.“Because he’s that guy, and when you see that, you know he is not going to leave these at-risk kids behind or an NBA player snorkeling. “Even your mom, your dad, your grandparents—they can give you pointers, but you have to go along that path on your own because every kid is different; every situation is different.It’s a powerful experiment that bucks the charter school–heavy trend of public education, radically proposing to give more to the students who have the least—as his “uncle” has noticed.
They discovered that the high school–dropout rate was 24 percent, a fact that caused them to rethink their efforts, focusing on what Le Bron now calls “an infrastructure” of not just educational but emotional, and even nutritional, support.
“With Le Bron, it comes from the heart, and it comes from having been there.”Michele Roberts is the head of the National Basketball Players Association, where James is on the executive committee.