LeBron James may have cooled a bit with regard to leaving the Los Angeles Lakers and possibly returning to Cleveland so he can enjoy a third tour with the Cavaliers alongside his son. But his hometown of Akron, OH is already welcoming him back with The LeBron James Museum, which is being sponsored by Upper Deck Sports and will be incorporated into House Three Thirty.
In December 2020, the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) purchased the The Tangier, a 60,000-square-foot entertainment center and eatery, and they converted it into House Three Thirty (named after the local area code). When the museum opens next year, fans of “The Chosen One” will have the chance to explore the ups-and-downs that made James the man he is today.
The first exhibit will walk visitors through James’ rocky childhood (he moved 12 times between the ages of 5 and 8 years old) up to when he and his mother Gloria James moved into Akron’s Spring Hill Apartments, around 1997.
The second space is dedicated to James’ career at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. “This is the place where all the dreams turned into reality,” he told the New York Times when he revisited the school thirteen years ago. James said it was fateful that he ended up there instead of the predominantly Black John R. Buchtel High School.
In December 2002, ESPN nationally aired St. Vincent-St. Mary High School versus Oak Hill Academy, the nation’s top ranked high school team at the time, a first of its kind. James outdueled his ended the night with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists in a 65-45 upset victory. “If you grow up poor and black in this country, you dream a lot, but you don’t really think they’re going to come true,” he continued. “[St. Vincent-St. Mary High School] is where it all started — where I began to think I could do it.”
The next two sections of the museum will cover James’ impact on the basketball court as well as his powerful business moves away from it. However, the final space is where visitors can experience the greatest part of James’ legacy: his philanthropy.
The LBJF was first created with a simple mission: to give third graders of Akron a bike and a helmet. Since then, the foundation moved on to giving out scholarships and grants, which eventually inspired James to establish the I Promise School. House Thirty Three expanded on that vision by offering classes on financial literacy, workplace skills, and jobs opportunities within the complex for Akron residents.
The venue will have restaurants and bars, too. And the final goal is for the LeBron James Museum to become an attraction that draws fans of James and basketball from all over the world to Akron, OH.
“When the school opened, we never anticipated the number of people who would come just to take a picture of the sign,” said Michele Campbell, exec. director of the LJFF. “This museum will be fun for everyone.”
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