{ Celebrity + Humanitarian = Celebritarian }

The Celebritarian of the Month is: LEBRON JAMES.

Somewhere in the United States of America, there is a boy…

At 3 p.m. sharp the school bell will ring and rather than get excited about leaving class, a tightness will develop in his young chest.

He’ll smile and try to act as if life is great in front of his classmates, but he knows that rising from the safety of his fifth grade seat to enter into the real world again, means he may or may not make it home alive, due to no fault of his own.

As soon as he is past the drug free school zone limit, the very same man that used to encourage him to ‘stay in school and become somebody great’ will demand more than ask, “When are you going to man up and join me out here?” This boy will look up at him, not because he wants to make eye contact with the very person that used to be a father figure to him, but because he cannot help but look lovingly at the once pretty crystal meth addicted woman standing by his side, who also happens to be his mother.

The next five blocks will force this boy to endure the sound of broken glass underneath his feet, unavoidable exposure to the depressing views of long ago abandoned homes, and the stench of trash spilling out of garbage cans further littering the already dirty sidewalk.

The gunshots that ring out when he has just one block left to go, make his knees buckle with weakness and fear; but then a rush of adrenalin causes him to run because his life literally depends upon him making it to his apartment door.

A single key that dangles around his neck on a shoestring, offers the only respite from a hellish life that he never asked to be born into, and has no map to find his way out of; but at 3:15 p.m. when he turns the lock and closes the door behind him, he feels, like he did in the classroom, at peace.

From that very moment until 6 p.m. if he stays indoors, he will have reduced if not eliminated his chances of being involved in a juvenile related crime or worse, becoming the tragic victim of one. This is what the research tell us: that the first three hours after the school bell rings is when juvenile delinquency is at it’s highest.

At 3 p.m. this boy needed his father.

And in the absence of his father, this boy not only needed but deserved a mentor.

From the moment he took his first breath as a human being, this boy earned the right to be loved, nurtured and guided into a better future than the one he was born into. His beating heart granted him, at the very least, the same opportunity that a child of affluence was automatically given; the chance to be pointed in the right direction so that as he grew up he could contribute to society and not become a burden upon it.

Wondering not if but when he would be sent to prison for a crime that was practically created for him to commit, due to the lack of positive role models in his surroundings, should never have been part of his psyche. Fighting the reality of the chaotic world he was born into is less about life being unfair, and more about proactive adults stepping up to be there for him, whether or not he is a relative.

At 3 p.m., had a mentor been there to greet him after school and walk or drive him home, this child would not have had to endure this painful journey alone. Along the way he could have gleefully ignored the dismal surroundings that normally depress him; and instead, asked his mentor for advice about an upcoming code writing contest, or shared his excitement about dedicating his next book report to his hero, astronaut Leland Melvin.

And when they reached the safety of his home, a healthy snack and a firm handshake could have been shared to celebrate that once again, the small but consistent effort of showing up for those that need it the most, can be rewarding for both mentee and mentor.

Lebron James epitomizes the type of mentor that this boy, and so many other at risk children need. He is also the reason that thousands of young people across the country feel safe, inspired and are finally in possession of the map that can lead them out of their bleak situations to a successful future.

James, also referred to as The King of Basketball, has won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, an NBA scoring title, two NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. The time it took, and the energy that had to be spent, for this one man to achieve such an exospheric level of success, all before the age of thirty, has left the world in awe.

What is equally astonishing is that he has not allowed his schedule, personal life or business obligations to deter him from keeping his promise to help children succeed.

Born to a sixteen-year-old single mother in Akron, Ohio; Lebron like many at risk children, had to rely on the good graces of his community, when his young mother needed additional help raising him. From the time he was five until eight-years-old, they moved eleven times within a three-year period, forcing him to change schools at least four times. It goes without saying that on more than one occasion, where their next meal would come from was unknown. And though barely an adult herself, Gloria James had the courage and innate wisdom to realize that it was time to ask for help.

When she chose to send her only son to temporarily live with Pam and Frankie Walker; a local highly respected family with three children of their own, to ensure he had a safe and nurturing environment to thrive in, he blossomed from a child nervous about his future to a disciplined, respectable young boy who brought home good grades. For the first time in his young life, Lebron was part of a stable two-parent household.

Frankie paid attention to Lebron; going to his games to cheer him on and advise him. Finally, this young boy knew what it felt like to be encouraged by a strong and positive male figure. Pam gave Lebron the gift of complete acceptance in her home; letting him to feel safe enough to share his thoughts, openly ask for guidance, and for the very first time in his life, enjoy his youth. Lebron was not a guest that was being tolerated until Gloria could come back for him; as far as the Walkers were concerned, he was home, until further notice. Their meals were his meals and their son’s room was now his room too. Chores were given to him, and to their surprise, gladly accepted and performed. The discipline and time management that came along with being responsible for respecting the rules of his new household, planted the seeds that would blossom into the work ethic he uses today both on and off the court.

The Walker’s were philanthropists, humanitarians and mentors.

They may not have known this at the time, or called themselves that either, but their altruistic actions of sharing their time, money, home and wisdom with a nine-year-old fatherless boy make it impossible to call them anything else.

Frankie was ‘that man’ that showed up to mentor a young boy in need of a strong male role model; he was also ‘that man’ that did not use his already busy life as an excuse not to reach out and help one more child in need.

Pam was ‘that woman’ that did not ‘look’ at a young mother asking for help; but chose to ‘see’ an opportunity to do for another what she would hope someone would do for her own children if the situation was reversed.

Lebron is now ‘that man’ for countless preteen and teens across the nation, and just like Elizabeth Taylor, who chose to use her global platform to bring education, research and funding to the fight against HIV/AIDS; Lebron James is becoming the most hands on, results driven, advocate for the mentoring of at risk children in the United States of America.

Here are 6 reasons why we know this to be true:

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1. He has donated $42 million dollars to send 1,100 kids from Akron, Ohio with challenging backgrounds to college, who complete his foundations “I Promise” program.

2. He has renovated 29 Boys & Girls Clubs of America across the country in the last five years alone.

3. To help reduce the days of students not coming to school, he sends children a personal voicemail that says, “Hey! It’s Lebron! Your teacher told me you were not in school today. I hope you are feeling better soon. I need all of my Wheels for Ed All-Stars in school.” Every year, James’ Wheels for Education program selects a group of third grade students to be a part of WFE. WFE students begin each year with a two-week technology camp offered by Akron After School (AAS) in partnership with the Foundation. Throughout the school year, the WFE students receive support, encouragement and incentives; that will continue throughout their journeys to graduation.

4. In his absence, Lebron sends his LJFF 330 Ambassadors; a group of high school and college students, who volunteer to be his ‘eyes and ears’ with the younger children participating in the foundations various programs. This connection to teens and young adults has created a priceless mentor – mentee role model relationship, further allowing the at risk kids who participate in his program to feel safe and guided even when he cannot be there.

5. His Wheels for Education Tech Camp; a two-week pre fall educational program that requires kids to attend seven out of nine days to receive incentives like a new bike, has succeeded in raising the confidence and ability to compete in a more technologically advanced school system for the at risk children who participate. By supplying the students with tablets and computers to work on math and reading projects, as well as teaching them how to use PowerPoint to create school projects, they become more confident to approach new ways of communicating, and surpass their current limitations to solve academic problems.

6. To teach the children of Akron that it is their responsibility to love their neighborhood by taking care of it, and investing in the upkeep of their surroundings, he has used the LJFF to bring together hundreds of volunteers to renovate homes for students that show exemplary dedication in the foundation programs.

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When Supermodel, philanthropist and humanitarian Liya Kebede spoke at the 2010 Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard University; she said, “More and more philanthropists are tracking impact, and demanding accountability. We are learning to attack problems at their root causes, and invest in sustainable empowering programs instead of a one time aid project that will fill an immediate need, but will never help people change the reality of their lives.” This statement is proof that those who use their global platform; including celebrities, to effect change, are paying closer attention to what actually happens long after the fundraising gala they attended is over.

Just like Kebede’s invaluable contribution to reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality in Ethiopia and around the world; Lebron James is 100% immersed in the thought, creation and results of the work he does through The Lebron James Family Foundation. In between basketball games and personal obligations, James will make the time to walk into the afterschool program at one of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that he renovated, stand before a group of impressionable children and say, “I promise to continue to be a role model to you guys, on and off the court and inspire you, and I will not let you down…never.”

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These excited children will then recite their promise back to him saying, “I promise to go to school, do all of my homework, listen to my teachers because they help me learn, ask questions and find answers, never give up – no matter what – always try my best, be helpful and respectful to others, live a healthy life by eating right and being active, make good choices for myself and to have fun.”

By filling their minds with this mantra of self love, self worth and respect for others, James is responsible for helping to raise a new generation of positive thinkers who will work together to make their own lives and communities better. To put it plainly, he will be ‘that man’ that broke generational curses of poverty and despair for countless young American children. Then, when those children grow up and have families of their own, a new paradigm will be lived for generations yet to come. And even beyond this point, what will happen when a whole town of third graders that were taught to see each other as equals from such a young and impressionable age, grow into philanthropic young adults?

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Lebron James may already have had this in mind, when he put his time, money and star power behind seeing every child from his hometown of Akron, as worthy of a chance to at the very least…find out.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. It means that you are further educated on the importance of mentoring, and that is where change begins.

Whether you are a father of four who can donate one day per month to being a mentor for the Boys & Girls Club of America, or a philanthropist that can sponsor an after school program; James’ humanitarian choices can be a source of inspiration to you, as you pursue your own journey to honoring the humanitarian and philanthropist within.

Just like Frankie and Pam Walker, you may be the only source of light for an at risk child that if given the chance…just the chance…may grow up to make the world a much better place to live in.

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“I have an obligation to hold up with these kids and not let them down. I feel its important for me with the power I have, and the voice that I have, with everything I have going for me, to be able to give back to these kids, and this is something that I love to do and want to do.” Lebron James

The Lebron James Family Foundation
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-LeBron James gif has been digitally enhanced by The Celebritarian. It is the property of the NBA-

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