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.“When you can change a kid’s life for the better, you’re accomplishing something great,” says Buffett, a well-known cheerleader for public schools.If you ever get a chance to tour Akron, Ohio, with Savannah and Le Bron James, they might show you the tree-lined street Savannah grew up on with her parents, and the low-income housing where Le Bron lived with his mom. Also on the tour, Savannah’s high school, where Savannah was a cheerleader and still, in a way, is a cheerleader today. Mary, Le Bron’s high school, where a tourist or two shows up every couple of days hoping for a peek at the gym that the four-time NBA MVP started out at, and that the Le Bron James Family Foundation renovated.There are bagels and coffee, and when I ask Le Bron if he can remember that night in 2002, he lights up and turns to his wife. Le Bron points out that he was also determined to impress her dad with an on-time post-date arrival. Now, fifteen years later, they’re stepping out together again, in Le Bron’s case to spotlight a side of him that the world beyond Akron doesn’t really see—much less get—and in Savannah’s to expand the support work for young women that she has committed to for the past five years, on top of the foundation’s other initiatives.“You had on a black-and-pink two-piece,” he says, positively beaming now. They’re giving a rare interview as a couple, and they’re relaxed and welcoming.(Friends confirm that they are models of hospitality.“You go for lunch, you stay for dinner,” I was told.) In person, Le Bron is as tall as you would expect of the guy who is arguably the best basketball player in the world, while Savannah is an elegant five feet seven, with superstar charisma.“Me and Dwyane, our biggest takeaway about Savannah and Le Bron is that they’re real,” says Gabrielle Union, the actress who is married to the Chicago Bulls’ Dwyane Wade and is friends with the James family. You think, Oh, my God, Le Bron is silly and jumps around, and you know?
Summers and Sandberg have joint custody of the boy.Cut to the Le Bron James Family Foundation back-to-school orientation for at-risk students (as identified by the public schools), where teachers bring students’ skills up and begin to build support for the upcoming year. Says Keith Liechty, the coordinator of school improvement for Akron Public Schools, “Before the James foundation, it was a struggle to get parents involved.”What started with 232 students five years ago has now grown to more than 1,200, whom Le Bron, Savannah, and the foundation staff meet with regularly to communicate goals and needs.At all their meetings the students renew their promise to finish school.Along with a team of certified mentors and counselors, she will begin working with sixteen high school girls at Buchtel, her alma mater, offering one-on-one support. Savannah remembers her own mother doing anything she could to help young people in need. .”In Akron, you see a side of Le Bron that the rest of the world doesn’t. And most people understand that he is a budding player in Hollywood, executive-producing his own television series (.“When I was growing up, my mom took in three or four kids just because they needed a place to go and be safe, to eat,” she says. “These are my friends; these are my cousins,” says Savannah. Even Le Bron James the businessman, with multiple endorsement deals, is no big news—not, for instance, to Warren Buffett.