We are officially in the dregs of the offseason right now, so rather than write about something that doesn’t really matter, let’s talk about two Los Angeles Lakers who recently did some cool things for the community: LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.
James is potentially the NBA player best known for their charitable works, most notably his efforts to help open the I Promise School, an educational institution in James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio with the mission to take children in the bottom 25th percentile of their school district academically and attempt to help them grow the equivalent of two academic years in just one.
In the past, James has shown he’s willing to go to (sometimes hilarious) lengths to raise money for the school, and in a recent video on his “Uninterrupted” media network, he demonstrated how he can use his massive platform to create partnerships that benefit the school, and even make one little girl’s day in the process:
With a special assist from @Walmart, @kingjames surprised 9-year-old LaRiyah with the ultimate back-to-school shopping spree to give her the confidence to start the year right. He also helped her pick up supplies for every student at the @IPromiseSchool#HeartOfSurprise pic.twitter.com/I6VGgSxGIZ— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) August 30, 2019
So first: Yes, that is rather transparently an ad for Wal-Mart semi-disguised as a documentary. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t benefit the school, or seem to make it less special for LaRiyah when James surprised her.
James donates substantial money to the school himself, but it’s still a part of the public school system — meaning it draws on state funds as well — and partnerships like this are ways James can get others to help him and the state of Ohio fund such an expansive project.
This shouldn’t come as a shock, but most schools don’t have Wal-Mart clamoring to provide them with school supplies. That’s the power of James lending his name and likeness in a way that gets companies and corporations to do charitable work (in part) so that they can work with James as well. Even if Wal-Mart (and James) are clearly benefitting from doing this, the school definitely is too, a win-win-win situation that James should be applauded for creating.
James isn’t the only Laker doing good in the community of late, either. Syracuse police officer Brandon Hanks went viral a few weeks ago for posting video of himself playing basketball against kids, with a simple challenge for them: If they scored on him first, he would give them a new pair of shoes. And if he scored on them first, they had to do pushups.
It would seem Rondo — “Hanks’ favorite NBA point guard,” according to Syracuse.com — saw what Hanks was doing and wanted to help out, so his foundation donated 25 pairs of shoes to Hanks’ challenge (via Syracuse.com):
“We are always willing to provide support to people who are willing to use their time, talent and treasure to make this world a better place,” Rondo’s foundation said. “One game, one chat, one day at a time.”
Hanks, who is in his second year as an officer, started playing against kids several months ago to build relationships in the Eastwood neighborhood he patrols.
That may seem like a small gesture on Rondo’s part, but it’s still a cool thing for him to do of his own accord nonetheless. Even though Hanks has only been beaten once according to that article, a new pair of sneakers isn’t cheap, and Rondo helping Hanks keep his outreach attempt going is pretty cool.
Here at Silver Screen and Roll, we try to cover the Lakers as objectively and fairly as possible, and that means that if we’re going to spend time and space on the bad things the team does, it’s only fair that we highlight some of the good work the players are doing in areas far more important than the basketball court. Kudos to James and Rondo for striving to make a difference, and for helping causes that matter to them.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.