One high school student drops out every twenty-six seconds, a statistic LeBron James says he was determined not to be a part of in a new public service announcement for The U.S. Army and the Ad Council.
"Just like the public service announcement says, without the amazing people in my community, I could have easily ended up a statistic. It was my coaches, teachers, friends, and mentors who gave me the support I needed to stay focused. I know what it means for kids in tough situations to have a strong network of support," James said in a release announcing the PSA.
Creators of the campaign say that they tapped the NBA superstar in an effort to deter students from thinking that athletic success does not require you to succeed academically.
According to partner site Boostup.org, 1.3 million students don't graduate each year -- 46 percent of blacks, 44 percent of hispanics and 49 percent of American Indians -- and earn over $260,000 less over the course of their careers than those who do graduate.
James was promoted as a future NBA star during his sophomore year of high school at St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, and considered declaring for the 2002 draft after the season ended by petitioning for an adjustment to the NBA's draft eligibility rules, which at the time required prospective players to have at least completed high school, according to a 2009 article in The New York Times.
The petition was unsuccessful, but it ensured him an unprecedented level of nationwide attention as he entered his senior year, landing him spots on the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine by his senior year.