AKRON - In this “23 Big Dreams” series, the LeBron James Family Foundation and its broadcast partner, WKYC, highlight a new Akron Public School student and his or her career aspirations each week. With a tuition and fees scholarship from The University of Akron, the commitment of college has changed their personal goals and their expectations for their futures. Like LeBron, these are just kids from Akron with big dreams.
“Education is the most important thing in life.”
Those are familiar words for 12-year-old Zaire Lee, who has been hearing that mantra for most of his life.
The directive comes from Zaire Lee’s mother, Lakesha Wilson, who has always emphasized the importance of education to her kids. As Zaire has gotten older – he is now a 7th grader at Litchfield middle school in Akron – he has realized that his education will be the key that unlocks his big dream of playing professional basketball.
“I know I have to put in a lot of hard work, get through school, and get good grades,” said Zaire, when asked how a kid from Akron ends up in the NBA.
Inspired by another kid from Akron, Zaire can recount the entire life story of his role model, LeBron James. He’s looked up to the All-Star since he was little, and LeBron’s presence in his life means even more now that he’s in the LeBron James Family Foundation’s Akron I PROMISE Network.
With his promises guiding the way, Zaire is motivated by Mr. LeBron in the classroom and beyond.
“He just keeps his promises and it makes me feel like I can do what he did,” says Zaire without an ounce of hesitation.
What LeBron has done is use his influence to move an entire community and rally it around his kids, all of which he has committed a four-year scholarship to The University of Akron if they keep their promises. He’s changed their outlook on life, leading them to think about a future that extends further than middle school and high school.
He’s also taught them the importance of giving back, with community service a staple for all of his kids. That has actually become one of Zaire’s favorite parts of being in the program, and something he plans to do plenty more of in the future.
Zaire’s determination and dedication to school will undoubtedly help him earn his scholarship, which makes him excited for his future.
“[The scholarship] means I can really go to college and make my dream come true,” he says. And with that belief, his mom’s words of wisdom about education being the most important thing in life have never rung more true.