The basketball gym at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary's high school is getting a major makeover thanks to an extremely generous donation from the school's most famous alum.
Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has pledged $1 million to the school to help turn the outdated, undersized gym into a state-of-the-art facility. James starred for St. Vincent-St. Mary's from 1999-2003, and he actually played just a few games at the current gym after his freshman season because the popularity of his teams forced the school to move many home contests to the larger arena at the University of Akron.
Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal writes that St. Vincent-St. Mary's basketball coach Dru Joyce II, who coached James one decade ago, will oversee the project. But James will also have a say in the decision-making.
"I'm a hands-on guy and this is going to be more hands-on because it’s something that means a lot to me," James told Ridenour. "I'll try to be hands on with Coach Dru, with the school, with the floor, the locker rooms, the bleachers. … I have a good sense of what stadiums or arenas or schools or gyms should look like."
Built in 1958 and opened in 1959, the gym is not even the regulation NCAA/NBA size. It is 84 feet by 50 feet, and the new court will be 94 feet by 50 feet. The renovation will also include new lighting, bleachers, locker rooms and an upgraded training room.
The new gym, set to be completed by the end of September, will be named LeBron James Arena.
"I'm not doing it for applause or a roar from anyone," James said. "I'm doing it because it's going to benefit the kids that are there now and in the future. It holds a special meaning for me being from Akron, Ohio and being at that school for four years."