by Adam Figman / @afigman
Saturday afternoon, at the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Louisiana in Gretna, La. about four and a half miles from where he’ll play in the NBA All-Star Game Sunday night, LeBron James sat in a director’s chair as a group of local kids put on a presentation for the Miami Heat superstar. LBJ was in the house because his foundation and Sprite refurbished the building, sprucing up the gymnasium with a sprawling mural across the gym’s main wall and a large “LeBron James Foundation” logo on the center of the space’s new basketball court.
Before the event kicked off, SLAM spoke briefly with James about where his desire to give back comes from. “For me, things like this have been going on—obviously not to this magnitude—but since I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve always been a sharing, team-first oriented person. In school, someone might have needed a pencil, and if I had an extra pencil, I’d give them a pencil. If I had an extra book bag, I’d give them a book bag. I’ve always kind of been that way, and it came from not just my mother, but my first little league coach as well, Frank Walker Sr. He just always instilled this whole team nature—between [my mother and little league coach], it was always in me.”
We noted that it sounds like his on-the-court style of play derives directly from this way of living. “Yeah, that’s why it’s easy,” he said with a smile. “It comes easy to me because my basketball game is built around my everyday life skills—commitment, cheering, teamwork, having a passion for what you’re doing and things of that nature. So when I go on the court, it’s just really who I am.”
The renovation also included new sports equipment, new flooring in the main entrance and new furniture in the classrooms. The event was part of Sprite and the LeBron James Foundation’s annual initiative with the Boys and Girls Club of America to fix up a center in each All-Star Game host city.
James, who is averaging 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game this season, will start for the East Sunday night.