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The I Promise School

The I Promise School, a public elementary school with free tuition, based in Akron, Ohio  opened last July. Akron native and the most famous basketball player alive, LeBron James, is the man behind the innovative new school. The school was originally open to only third and fourth graders. However, it is set to add a grade each year with the goal of serving each grade up to eight by the year 2022.

The partnership between Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation led to the formation of The I Promise School, whose name stems from the promise held by each student.

Students promise to go to school. They promise to have their homework done. They promise to be obedient to teachers. Moreover, students promise to ask questions and find answers. Also, they promise to be respectful of others and live a healthy life. Here are some of the rare significances attached to the I Promise School.

Born Out of a Passionate Desire

The idea for the school was birthed in 2011. LeBron, who experienced a rough education, missing 83 days of school as a 4th grader due to family issues, researched and found out about the high rate of high school dropouts in the Akron area. His findings inspired his commitment to the creation of the “I Promise Initiative”, a concept of which the “I Promise School” is a subset.

Unconventional School Hours

The I Promise School has goals that are different from any other school. Thus it’s schedule is completely different. The school runs from 8 am till 5 pm. Apart from the difference in time during regular school hours, the long summer vacation is also shortened and complemented with short breaks across the whole year. This unique schedule is one of the unique features that make The I Promise School stand out from many other schools within and outside Akron.

Job Assistance and Placement for Parents

The LeBron James family foundation laid down a plan to offer General Education Development (GED) tests assistance to families, parents and guardians who lack enough education to seek a well-paying jobs.

Parents of at-risk students who are less privileged and unable to earn a high income due to deficiencies in their educational background, now stand a chance of progressing or resurrecting initially curtailed careers due to lack of adequate education. This scheme has dramatically helped both parents and students to focus on playing their respective roles.

Adequate Nutrition

The I Promise School acknowledges that both physical health and mental health both have a strong relationship with the growth of an individual. With the lengthy school hours at the I Promise School, it is not only necessary to have a well-planned meals program, but equally crucial to ensure adequate nutrition. This is especially important because many students arrive to school on an empty stomach.

However, meals at the I Promise School are not only limited to lunch, it also includes breakfast. This helps students become more focused as the distraction that can be caused by hunger has been taken care.

Free Bicycle and Helmet

In keeping with the value placed on physical health and nutrition, Lebron made it a point of duty to provide free bicycles and helmets for all students. This doesn’t only eradicate the issue of lateness, but it also strengthens the students physically. With this, students can now be punctual as the delay that could emanate from transportation problems has been taken care of. This also helps them mentally as the sense of ownership also inspires a sense of responsibility.

Access to Fitness Trainers

The I Promise School opened in July 2018 with forty-three staff. The staff recruitment was not only limited to the traditional teaching staff, but a mix of both teachers and other staff members to address the non-academic needs of students.

The staff consist of a principal, assistant principal, and four intervention specialist tutors. There is also an English as a second language teacher, music instructor, and surprisingly, a fitness trainer. Again, the care in staff selection shows LeBron’s commitment to fostering the growth of each student. I’ve worked in schools before and can attest to how the lack of investment when it comes to hiring non-academic staff can hinder the growth of each student. It can also wrongfully promote a culture where letter grades and test scores are the end game, rather than the mental, physical and emotional development of the student.

University Sponsorship

As the end of high school approaches, the fear of college application fees and the process of applying for financial aid can be overwhelming. For this reason, the I Promise School offers every single student that completes the school program and graduates from high school a full tuition scholarship at the University of Akron. Yes, you heard that right, tuition is covered by LeBron James.

Hopefully, students who make it to the university level and graduate would keep LeBron’s generosity and the commitment of the I Promise School staff in mind and pay their generosity forward to future generations.

Social Integration

Apart from the significant school commitments mentioned above, social intervention is another excellent focus of the school. The job of the I Promise School doesn’t end within its walls. The school also goes beyond classroom learning to provide students with a seven-week summer session. The summer session is aimed at helping them improve their social-emotional development. Students participate in a “supportive circle.” Thus, balancing the lifestyle of the students on and off the school grounds.

Conclusion

The I Promise School’s setting is exceptional and goes beyond the usual school experience. The difference is not only the free tuition, meals and bikes. In fact, it’s not even about the extremely generous university sponsorship.

The core significance of the I Promise School lies in its “We Are Family” philosophy. Not only the students, but their parents or caregivers also receive the academic, career and emotional support that they need to ensure a better life for their family.

As someone who has spent time in the education field, I’m genuinely excited about the innovation LeBron brings with the I Promise School. It’s not a gimmick or publicity stunt. In every detail we see LeBron’s commitment to fix the flaws in education that he experienced as a child or witnessed growing up in Akron.

We can debate all day about whether LeBron is the GOAT or better than MJ, but there’s no debating that LeBron is doing his part to fix the education inequalities in America. We can all learn a lesson from the King turned school founder.

Not only is Lebron changing lives for students but he’s also impacting the Lakers in a monumental way! Read more here!

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Why Floyd Mayweather Is Still the Greatest

Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. is a household name in the boxing world. He remains one of the greatest of all time in the combat sport. The boxing world is not complete without mentioning the brand “Mayweather.”He has won several world heavyweight titles across different divisions. Besides his versatility, Mayweather is also known to be the best defensive boxer of his time.

Most of all, Mayweather combines his smarts inside the ring, with a charm and savviness outside the ring.    

There are a lot of new faces entering the boxing world, but Mayweather’s successes both inside and outside the ring prove that he is still the GOAT. Like Tom Brady, you can’t sleep on Mayweather. Here’s a reminder of why Mayweather is still the greatest.

10 Reasons Mayweather Is Still the Greatest

•    Dedication & Strong Work Ethic:

Mayweather went pro in 1996, but he has been working on his craft since he was 7 years old. According to Liberty Voice, Mayweather was introduced to the sport by his father Floyd Mayweather Sr. His father, a former boxer, became his earliest trainer and manager. The young Mayweather was a familiar face in his neighborhood gym. This work ethic carried on to his adult life. Boxing News analyzed Mayweather’s infamous training routine. It includes 40 rounds of training, complete with weighted shadow boxing drills, a horrendous amount of ab work and weighted jump roping. I break a sweat just reading through Mayweather’s workout routine. Think what you want about Mayweather’s arrogant style and outside the ring antics, but don’t hate on Mayweather’s work ethic.  

  •   Smart Career Choices

Mayweather has been repeatedly called a lackluster boxer because of his hesitancy to accept open fight invitations. Unlike other boxers, Mayweather is a discrete fighter who sticks to his principles. He doesn’t follow the bandwagon approach to boxing, nor does he follow every wish of his fans. In some circles, Mayweather is infamously known as the fighter who “cherry picks” his opponents. He only gets in the ring with opponents he knows he can beat or those that’ll offer a big payout. Whether money or victory is the priority, so far, this attitude has served  Mayweather well. Mayweather has an undefeated record of 50-0. This beats the legendary Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record. However, what some might describe as being smart about ones career and money, others criticize as being boring.

  •    Swift Positioning:

Mayweather has equipped himself with a sound positioning skill in the ring; whether he has his back lying on the ring ropes or is throwing jabs at his opponent, he always has his game under  control. He has expertly mastered the art of “hit and not getting hit” over time. He accomplishes this through his trademark pattern of weaving and ducking. This skill allows Mayweather to overcome his opponent in any bout. We saw Mayweather’s infamous duck and weave approach during his blockbuster fight with Manny Pacquiao.  

  •    Tactical Shoulder Defense:

All boxing enthusiasts truly know this fact – Mayweather’s major upper hand above others lies in his tactical shoulder defense. His tactical shoulder-roll is among the primary reasons why he has been so successful. Mayweather’s footwork, experience and speed, have also been very helpful in counteracting the power of conventional boxers.

•    Fast hands:

Mayweather applies head movement and shoulder defense to avoid his opponent’s hard punches. He possesses a distinctive cross-arm style of defense that differs from the conventional hands-up technique. However, opponents can’t sleep on Mayweather fast hands. Bleacher Report awarded Mayweather among the 15 fastest boxers of all time.

•    Foot speed:

The undefeated boxer is blessed with both fast hands and elusive foot speed. At some point in Mayweather’s fights, he always deliberately finds a way to frustrates his opponents. He often tricks his opponent into rushing him and being the aggressor. When his opponents do go for the kill, Mayweather swiftly moves away from his initial point to knock the opponent down.

•    Calculative Punching:

Simply put, it does not count if it doesn’t land. Floyd Mayweather, unlike the majority of traditional pressure boxers, seldom throws lots of punches; instead he ensures he records more punches accurately than his opponents in all fights.

During a fight with Marcos Maidana, the straight right jab from Mayweather was a direct contrast to Maidana’s wild power punches. Want a primer on Mayweather’s trademark tactical style? Watch this match in its entirety. You’ll notice Mayweather patiently studying Maidana’s style through several of the opening rounds. Only in the end, does Mayweather come alive with calculated counter-attacks and punches. Ultimately, the judges awarded Mayweather’s calculated style with a win.

•    Smart strategy:

Mayweather’s brilliance isn’t contained to one weight division. He has climbed 5 weight divisions as a world boxing champion. Having battled with different types of opponents, he has earned the enviable title of slayer to many Hall of Famers like Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, De La Hoya, Mosley and Marquez.

•    Great Self-esteem

Mayweather reeks of confidence. Nowhere is this more evident than when you witness him carrying out his usual onslaught against hapless opponents in the boxing ring. However, his confidence is just as present outside the ring. According to ESPN, Mayweather attempted to bet $400,000 on his own 2017 fight vs. crossover UFC star Conor McGregor. Mayweather was so confident the fight would end under 9.5 rounds, that he was willing to put his own money on it. Ultimately, the casino wouldn’t allow the fighter to bet on himself. However, the attempt illustrates just how confident Mayweather is.

Bottom Line

Mayweather is an excellent fighter who has recorded great feats worth studying and emulating in professional boxing. Unlike hall of famer boxers before him, Mayweather has made a name for himself as a smart, tactical and defensive minded fighter. While he’s not the aggressor in the ring, outside the ring, Mayweather is always on the offense. He established Mayweather Promotions in 2007. By choosing to promote himself and a lineup of other fighters, Mayweather has increased his earnings from the ring. But unlike boxing, where the body will wear out and age will limit ones earnings, Mayweather Promotions can earn Mayweather wealth and prestige for decades to come. Future proofing his career, is yet another reason why Mayweather is still the greatest.

Interested in more teams that are on the rise? Find out the 2019 NFL Teams that you must watch for! 

Serena Williams Named GQ Woman of the Year

Tennis superstar Serena Williams was named 2018’s GQ Woman of the Year. Learn how she inspired both on and off the court and why after all these years she’s still dominating the conversation.

2018 was a year of thrilling performances for tennis superstar Serena Williams. A glimpse back into the year suggests that Williams couldn’t have asked for a better season. Blazing the trail all through 2018, the 23 time grand slam winner seized the memorable moments of the year to remind her critics that she is still very much around and as dominant as ever

Ultimately, the tennis queen was awarded the GQ Woman of the Year Award. Highlighted below are just a few of Williams’ most memorable moments. Even if you’re not the biggest tennis fan, by the end of this article you’ll have mad respect for Williams as an athlete and a powerful female.

The Comeback

In 2017, the energetic tennis queen went through a harrowing postpartum experience after giving birth to her first daughter. Later, she disclosed in an interview that she almost died from the experience.

The strong and bold Williams overcame the traumatic postpartum experience and came back to the court stronger than anyone could imagine. She didn’t just come back, the Michigan born Williams showed vulnerability in sharing her postpartum experience with the world. Throughout her career, we see this willingness to speak openly about both the ups and downs as a trademark. Williams’ willingness to inspire and relate to other mothers going through postpartum challenges is just one reason why she deserves the GQ Woman of the Year Award.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 04: Serena Williams of the USA celebrates victory after winning her finals match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during day seven of the 2014 Brisbane International at Queensland Tennis Centre on January 4, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Achievements on the Court

Motherhood might have been a new arena for Williams, but once she got back on the court we were reminded why the tennis court is her territory. Back on familiar grounds, it didn’t take Serena long to broadcast her comeback to her rivals, fans, and foes.

Her enviable sporting successes in 2018 include:

  • Back to back Wimbledon and US Open Final appearances
  • Competing in seven tournaments, beating much younger players
  • An impressive win over the extremely tactical Anastasija Sevastova in the US Open Semifinal

Williams’ successes on the court proved to the world that it is possible to be a new mom and a high performing athlete.

The Controversy

Just like almost every other successful person, Williams has never been very lucky enough to escape the public eye and scrutiny. That is why everything about her is usually blown out of proportions, especially by her critics.

This is what happened at the final of the 2018 US Open, where Serena faced Naomi Osaka, the Japanese player who revered Williams as her idol. Osaka carried the day defeating Williams 6-2, 6-4.

Ordinarily, the win was supposed to be the major talking point especially as the 21-year-old Naomi got the better of her longtime idol. Unfortunately, the controversial moment that brought a faceoff between the Umpire Carlos Ramos and Serena overshadowed every other highlight of the game.

Ramos charged Serena with three code violations, which was not only contested by Serena but degenerated to her losing her calm and breaking her racket even before the end of the game. Just when people thought it was all over, Williams went further to challenge the charges in her post-match conference. She insisted that Ramos stole a point from her and accused the umpire of being a liar. The unusual experience brought out an entirely different Serena.

However, it brought about a critical discussion about how male and female emotions are treated differently in sports. It got the world asking, would a male athlete get the same pushback for an in-game display of emotion? John McEnroe, I’m looking your way!  

Boldness On and Off the Court

Until 2018, Williams barely discussed her private life let alone get emotional about her past. However, the year was completely different as Williams, like never before, let the world know that she is after all, as vulnerable as every other person.

For the very first time in her career, the new mother related her fears, worries and pains to the world. She raised her voice against the many struggles and societal judgments she had to endure, especially in her 20s.

Indeed, the Olympic Gold Medalist had been unjustly accused of several things including being referred to as a player who doesn’t belong in the women’s sport. Williams’ most notable 2018 speech was her open letter to her mother on Reddit, a platform co-founded by her husband.

This letter and other vulnerable moments were memorable to her fans and even won her a host of new admirers. To many, Williams was just being her honest self, a virtue appreciated especially by women around the world. After all, people don’t need a flawless queen, they need an honest one who is not too proud to let them know that she has worries and issues just like them.      

Finally, Her GQ Woman of the Year Award:

After being an inspiration both on and off the court, Serena topped it off by winning the coveted GQ Woman of the Year Award. It is not surprising to see her being named as the women of the year by the New York-based international monthly men’s magazine, GQ Magazine. This is in recognition of her achievements for the year both on and off the court.   

Forget Controversy, Serena is the G.O.A.T

Despite the controversies, Williams earned her Woman of the Year honors. According to GQ, “No matter how you cut it, Serena Williams had a remarkable year.

With that said, Serena has nothing to prove to anyone anymore. She has made herself an icon in the sport she passionate loves. She has made her mark on and off the court, and her records are there to speak for themselves. Most of all, in 2018, Williams evolved our definition of what a strong woman is. Yes, it’s an athlete who dominates. However, it’s also a superstar who is able to inspire mothers, a demographic often ignored by sports, through weakness and victory. Lastly, Williams showed the world that a strong woman can wear her heart on her sleeves and perhaps it is those that would criticize a female’s display of emotion that should be questioned.  

Ready for more sports legends? Learn how Lebron James is impacting the Lakers like never before!