NET WORTH: $450 million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: NBA Player
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth
OVERVIEW: Lebron James philanthropy through the Lebron James Family Foundation which announced plans to spend $41 million to send kids to college for free and opened its first elementary school in 2018.
BACKGROUND: Born in Akron, Ohio, Lebron James first garnered national attention as the top high school basketball player in the country. Drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 at 18 years old, he helped the Miami Heat to titles in 2012 and 2013, and returned to Cleveland to help the franchise claim its first championship in 2016. He currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Off the court, James was an early investor in Blaze Pizza and runs his production company SpringHill Entertainment.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Lebron James Family Foundation (LJFF) partnered with the University of Akron to provide four-year scholarships to the Ohio school for students in his “I Promise” program who qualify. The program provides support for more than 1,300 Akron public school students, who have been guaranteed college scholarships if they do their part. The first I Promise School launched in Akron. The inaugural class includes 240 third- and fourth-grade students.
One of LJFF's first moves was giving away bikes to local Akron students. More recently, LJFF established the I PROMISE Institute at the University of Akron, aimed at helping students and their families transition to college life.
Lebron also contributed $1 million to his high school St. Vincent-St. Mary, home to The LeBron James Arena. He’s also been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and created the Lebron James Playhouse in Akron.
OTHER: Lebron and his business partner Maverick Carter donated $2.5 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will support "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change," an exhibit on the late boxer’s commitment to social justice.
LOOKING FORWARD: Only in his 30s, Lebron James’ nascent giving should be watched in the coming years. Away from his native Ohio, Los Angeles is another site of potential significant philanthropy.