The bright lights, high-energy, and unique experience of All Star weekend all work together to create a larger-than-life opportunity for some of the NBA’s biggest stars and their fans. For LeBron James, it presents an opportunity to make an even bigger impact in the community and beyond.
As 23 of his high school 330 Ambassadors stepped off the plane in New Orleans, they knew their purpose. They were in the "Big Easy" not only as a member of the Akron community sent to make a difference, but as an extension of LeBron. An NBA All Star for 13 straight seasons, LeBron has committed to leaving his mark on the community of every All-Star host city. This year, he took it to a whole new level.
The group hit the ground running on Thursday morning, dispatching to the Bayou St. John neighborhood to help rebuild a distressed home that had been tarnished in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Partnering with a local organization, "Youth Rebuilding New Orleans," the Ambassadors installed dry wall, painted, and perfected the façade of the home that will eventually provide affordable housing for a local teacher. Picking up a few handy skills in the process, the Ambassadors learned about something more: the importance of giving back and creating real change in the community. But that was only the beginning of the life-long learning this trip would inspire.
As the sun rose on Friday, so too, did the Akron teens. On this cloudy day, the group was mobilized to assist with local disaster relief efforts following the devastating tornado that ripped through the New Orleans suburbs the week before. Immediately upon arrival on site, the damage was devastating. The real-life images of a blown off roof, shattered glass, broken brick, and a completely destroyed home hit the group instantly. Among the ruins was a photo album of the young girl whose bedroom was left in shambles. The pictures of the past proved how quickly life could change.
With the overwhelming sadness of the moment fueling the group’s fervent work ethic, the Ambassadors got to work cleaning up the debris. By the end of their service, the home and surrounding yards had been cleared and prepared for the next phase of rebuilding. Not only had they left their mark, but they had learned a lot about life and each other in the process.
After putting in their important work, the Ambassadors got to see LeBron work at All Star practice on Saturday. And while All Star festivities took center stage for the rest of the busy city, the Ambassadors’ learning experience continued as they visited authentic New Orleans restaurants, stopped in local shops, and walked through one of the many festive Mardi Gras parades.
For many teenagers, this All-Star experience would be nothing more than an epic vacation. But for LeBron’s 330 Ambassadors, it was so much more. At the conclusion of the trip, the LeBron James Family Foundation charged the Ambassadors to identify a problem in Akron and come up with a solution they could implement upon their return home. That project will commence in Akron shortly, with a projected completion of early June.
This All-Star weekend, not only had LeBron’s kids made a difference in New Orleans, but they will go on to make an even bigger, long-term impact in their hometown. And that is the mark of a true All Star.