I Promise students, LeBron James' former coach react to NBA star setting scoring record

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Akron was in a celebratory mood Wednesday after native LeBron James set the NBA's all-time scoring record, surpassing Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points.

On Tuesday night, James entered the game between the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder needing 36 points to break the record. He reached the total by making a turnaround jump shot with 10.9 seconds left in the third quarter, and the game was halted to commemorate the occasion. Abdul-Jabbar handed a ball to James, and then they exchanged a handshake and a hug on the court.

Mayor Dan Horrigan declared Feb. 8 LeBron James Day in the city to mark the hometown hero’s achievement, with everyone – from James’ former coach to the students in his I Promise School – joining in on the celebration.

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LeBron James an inspiration to I Promise School students

Akron’s I Promise School, spearheaded by The LeBron James Family Foundation, was abuzz with excitement and pride at their founder’s latest triumph. One of the school’s basketball players, Amaris Scott, 12, discussed how watching James break the record impacted her.

I Promise School basketball players Ernest Pitts (left), Amaris Scott and Treyshaun Tolbert pose for a photo.
I Promise School basketball players Ernest Pitts (left), Amaris Scott and Treyshaun Tolbert pose for a photo.

“It was really special to me because now I know I can achieve my dreams and beat someone else's high score or record.” Scott said. “It inspires me that he's just a kid from Akron, so I can be in the WNBA just like him and be a kid from Akron.”

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That inspiration continues off the court for basketball player Ernest Pitts, 14, who said that he would like to open a school akin to the one he attends one day. Pitts’ peer, Treyshaun Tolbert, 14, expanded on the impact James has had on the Akron community.

“It means...it means a lot for us because a lot of people in the world, there’s a lot of selfish people in the world, but I feel like LeBron, he’s not selfish,” Tolbert said. “He's one of the people that actually gives back to us. He’ll make sure we have clothes, he'll get food because LeBron knows where we all came from. He knows that we all came from somewhere rough, just like he did. So, I feel like he’s making it fair for us by giving everything that he wanted.”

While some children mentioned the shoes, clothes and food as Tolbert did, I Promise student Vikiyah Powe, 14, said that her favorite aspect of the school is the family atmosphere and safety it provides students.

I Promise School students Vikiyah Powe and Jemar Surles pose for a photo.
I Promise School students Vikiyah Powe and Jemar Surles pose for a photo.

If Powe and her peer, Jemar Surles, 13, ran into James today, they’d have different ideas about what they would say to the NBA star.

“How do you do it?” Powe said.

“Congratulations – keep working hard,” Surles said.

LeBron's childhood coach Dru Joyce II reflects on accomplishment

St. Vincent-St. Mary’s boys basketball coach Dru Joyce II coached James from ages 10 to 14 and then again later in James' high school career. Joyce believes that there is no longer any doubt that his former pupil is the greatest of all time.

“What's great about it is the way he's gone about it,” Joyce said. “The work ethic, the professionalism, couldn't have done a better way. I'm excited for him and honored to say that I had a small role in the journey.”

St. Vincent-St. Mary’s sign on West Market Street congratulates LeBron James on breaking the NBA scoring record.
St. Vincent-St. Mary’s sign on West Market Street congratulates LeBron James on breaking the NBA scoring record.

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Joyce also commended James’ influence on the next generation of children in Akron with the I Promise School. To make children understand the importance of their education and what it can do for them, as well as setting a good example is impactful beyond words, he said.

“As far as the scoring title, it could be 45-48,000, I just know one thing – I won’t be around to see it broken,” Joyce said.

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Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at tbeans@gannett.com and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: I Promise students react to LeBron James setting NBA scoring record