CLEVELAND -- LeBron James has huge goals that go beyond winning championships.
The Cavs’ MVP from Akron has always wanted to help his community.
12 years ago he started the LeBron James Family Foundation, and has since impacted the lives of thousands of youngers.
“It’s something I always dreamed about since I was a kid way before 2004," LeBron told WKYC's Jim Donovan in an exclusive interview. "I always told myself if I’m able to be successful in any way, shape or form -- and this is before I even knew or thought that I could become a professional athlete -- I wanted to give back to my community. Fast forward to 2004 for my foundation to be able to start what we’re doing now. It’s been a great journey for us as a group, and now we’re giving back to the people who matter the most.”
During our one-on-one conversation, LeBron was sporting a "We are family" T-shirt.
“It’s not just myself and people that work for my foundation, but it’s everyone that’s a part of it. It’s our whole community. It’s about all the kids and all the families, mentors and teachers. Everyone. Everyone in this community is a part of this family.”
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The LeBron James Family Foundation is founded on its "I Promise" principles, which include working hard in school, living a healthy lifestyle and accepting the challenge of finishing school.
“The promise is each and every day. It’s not about just saying it at our big foundation event every year, but it’s every day. It’s that they’ll promise me -- and I’ll promise them as well -- to do great things. … My promise to them is that I will continue to be a great role model, a great inspiration and a great father figure for those kids.”
Tuesday night, LeBron was at Cedar Point where more than 5,000 students and families attended the LJFF’s annual “We are Family Reunion” in which 1,200 more children were added to the program.
"No matter what I do in my playing career, nothing would ever be able to compare to what I'm able to do with my foundation and for these kids. That day when a kid will come up to me and say, ‘You’re the reason I went to college and also graduated college,’ that’s something that I know for sure that will always stick.”
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LeBron graduated from St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron where his image -- and messages of leadership -- are plastered on the gymnasium's wall.
WKYC is a partner of the LeBron James Family Foundation.