PROMISE Project: Episode 4
"The path is crumbling and the porch is worn down… it’s sad when it should be welcoming!" – Nicole Curtis
The landscaping overhaul of our PROMISE Project home could have been a show unto itself. From the moment work started in the house until the final flag on the porch was hung, Bryan and Kevin Rice, their families, and their Rice’s Nursery Team worked day and night to completely overhaul the front and back yards.
Rice’s Nursery was invaluable to the PROMISE Project as LeBron goes on to describe in his own words:
Bryan, Kevin, JT, the whole crew… I don’t even… there aren’t even words to describe how much work they did and how much it means to me. From the first day, those green trucks rolled up and they never left! I was saying to myself, "Man, I bet their families miss them," but then their families showed up and worked! It was unbelievable. Bryan and his crew have been taking care of our home for years. Wait, did I mention what they did for the retaining wall?
That ENTIRE retaining wall was laid by hand… by hand! Have you felt how heavy those blocks are? I’m pretty sure there were a few torrential downpours in there as well. To the entire Rice’s Nursery family, thank you.
When the project started, the home’s retaining wall and steps were in a dangerous state of disrepair. "We turned to Bryan because he’s an expert, but also because he’s been dedicated and loyal to the James family for years," said Michele Campbell, Executive Director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. To start the front yard renovation, Rice’s Nursery enlisted some help from the James gang.
LeBron and his son, LeBron Jr., each hopped into a Bobcat and made quick work of the front yard. The whole yard had to be torn up to make the proper grade for the renovation.
"LeBron got a little too enthusiastic," laughed Jack Plas, the PROMISE Project general contractor, "He caught the gas line with the Bobcat." Green Mile Plumbing took care of that "Situation."
After the James boys took care of the lawn and retaining wall, the reconstructive work began. With owner Bryan Rice at the helm, the Rice’s Nursery Team began laying the new retaining wall, block by gigantic block. "Bryan was hands-on with his team the entire PROMISE Project. If his team was shoveling gravel, he was shoveling gravel. If it was 2 AM and the rain was pouring but his team was laying foundation blocks, he was laying foundation blocks. There was a point, probably around 3 AM, when Bryan and his son, JT, were the only people left on site, and they were shoveling gravel." - Michele Campbell
While the team was working on the front yard, Nicole and Mariah and her family took the short drive out to Rice’s Nursery in Canton, Ohio, where they selected the plants they wanted for their home.
When they returned, Nicole’s dad, Rod, and LeBron’s mom, Gloria, helped put their touch on the PROMISE Project by installing a new tree in the front yard.
With the retaining wall built, the team hand laid the brick walkway. After running into a minor hiccup, the team moved on to laying brand new sod. "Man, I’d love to play some football on this," LeBron said with a smile.
As Rice’s Nursery worked on the walkway and retaining wall, the Metis Construction crew rebuilt the front porch.
The work on the retaining wall, lawn, and front porch came together to give the PROMISE Project home one of the most picturesque facades in Akron. The icing on the cake? A swinging chair that fits three for Mariah’s brother, Zeke, to enjoy, donated by Value City Furniture. In the iconic words of general contractor, Jack Plas, "Team work makes the dream work."
What makes the Rice’s Nursery team even more incredible? They donated all of the landscaping materials for the nine other PROMISE Project yards that were renovated.