LeBron James museum opens Saturday with exhibits exclusive to Akron
A museum exploring the life and career of LeBron James opens Saturday at House Three Thirty in Downtown Akron. LeBron James’ Home Court features artifacts that can only be seen in the athlete’s hometown, such as a drum set from his childhood and his McDonald’s All-American jersey.
“When he went into the NBA, he always said he wanted to put Akron on the map,” said Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. “He's worked in Cleveland, Miami, he now works in L.A., but he has never, ever forgotten where he came from.”
James has played in the NBA since 2003 and is the league's all-time leading scorer. He founded the Lebron James Family Foundation in 2004, and it has since grown to include numerous programs such as the I Promise Institute and the I Promise School.
Fans of James are often spotted driving past the I Promise School to take photos with outdoor benches labeled “I Promise” and “We are Family,” Campbell said. These visitors cannot go inside the school, so the museum offers a deeper look.
“We definitely want this to be a destination for not only our community and people that live here, but anybody and everybody that's driving through,” she said. “Purchasing this facility allows us to open our doors to anyone that that is interested in coming into town.”
The self-guided tour starts with the recreation of his Spring Hill apartment, which is curated by James’ mother. Next is the St. Vincent–St. Mary’s LeBron James Arena featuring the original rim and backboard James played on while in high school.
“You'll see the actual TV that he watched, the computer that he did his homework on, his trophies from when he was growing up,” Campbell said.
His NBA championship runs with Cleveland, Miami and Los Angeles are honored alongside his years helping the USA basketball team win gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Notable items such as his all-white suit from the 2003 NBA Draft, fan art and original jerseys and shoes are displayed throughout. A replica of his personal office, which includes James family photos, follows.
The last section of the museum traces the evolution of the LeBron James Family Foundation. Featured items are the bike James rode during the foundation's first bikeathon and a variety of I Promise memorabilia.
“He lives his life the way he plays basketball and the way he plays basketball, it's not just LeBron. He knows he can't win a championship without his team members,” Campbell said. “What you'll see in this museum is a tribute to all those people that have helped him along his journey in life, whether it be his team members, his family, his fans.”
Tickets cost $23, but children five years and younger attend for free. Proceeds go towards House Three Thirty’s job training program. It provides I Promise students, parents and educators with new skills and job opportunities, Campbell said.
“He's an incredible basketball player,” Campbell said. “But his legacy, when this is all said done, the bigger story is going to be all this work he did in his hometown of Akron off the court to inspire and help others to live out their dreams.”
House Three Thirty is a cashless facility, and bags are prohibited except for small crossbody purses and wallets.
The Ohio State vs. Michigan football game will screen Saturday at public House Three Thirty venues the Den and the Cabaret, and food and drinks are available for purchase.