AKRON, Ohio — The hometown hero was back at his alma mater for a special surprise Thursday.

Students from the I PROMISE School were visiting St. Vincent – St. Mary High School when LeBron James dropped by with a check for $1 million.

That money, which comes from the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, will be used to build a new gym at the I PROMISE School.

“To my kids, this is more than a gym,” James said. “The DICK’S Sports Matter program is helping us provide even more opportunities. An opportunity to play and learn in a safe place that many don’t have access to. I can’t imagine where my friends and I would be if it weren’t for the coaches and teachers who cared about us and the opportunities we had.”

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The I PROMISE School is a public school founded in partnership with Akron Public Schools and the LeBron James Family Foundation. It serves 240 of Akron Public School’s most at-risk 3rd and 4th grade students.

All students at IPS started the school year in the bottom 25th percentile and were performing below grade level. In less than a year, they’ve shown incredible improvement, with 90 percent meeting or exceeding individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing peers across the district.

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“I believe the sky is the limit for these kids and the results we’re seeing are just the beginning,” James said. “The benefits of playing sports can extend to every aspect of your life, and I’m excited we’re able to provide a space for that growth at the I PROMISE School.”

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