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LeBron James Arena opens at St.Vincent-St.Mary; Irish fall to Central Catholic

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Say what you want about LeBron James....just don't say he doesn't give back

The brand new LeBron James Arena opened last night on the campus of St.Vincent-St.Mary hosting four games for the girls and boys junior varsity and varsity.

Just over a year ago, James pledged just over a million dollars for the complete renovation to the gym. If anyone had been to the old gym, you then know that it needed it. The floor was the original floor from 1958, and the stands weren't the most stable.

So.... what all was done?

New hardwood floors and bleachers, including bleachers behind each basket. A digital scoreboard. Personalized seating for the players. Flex row seating for handicapped fans. New lighting, paint and sports equipment. Finally, renovated locker rooms for both the boys and girls.

"The people at St. Vincent-St. Mary helped me grow as a person and as a basketball player, so this is my way of thanking them and helping future generations of Irish athletes also be proud of where they came from," James said

There is also a mural on one of the far walls with a history of LeBron's personal history, starting from his days at SVSM to his present time with the Miami Heat, including his philanthropic history. People at SVSM couldn't be more thrilled about the new addition. In a quote to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Michele Campbell, executive director of the LeBron James Foundation, summed it up:

"Since he left he always promised that he was going to get a new gym."

It would be hard to find a better game to open the arena with, with the #2 ranked Irish taking on #5 ranked Cleveland Central Catholic

The Irish were coming off a loss to St. Edward, and were looking to get back on the winning track. They would play the game without the services of 6.7" sophomore V.J. King, one of the top sophomores not only in the state, but in the nation. Central Catholic countered with their own super sophomore of their own in 6.7" Tervell Beck.

Central Catholic would erase a six point halftime deficit and defeat the Irish 53-52, behind Beck's 27 points. Sophomore Henry Baddley would lead the Irish with 20 points.

The night was more than just about the game. It was an opportunity for the future generations of kids going through SVSM to have adequate facilities, and for the fans of the Irish teams to be able to enjoy the facility as well.

For as much flack as LeBron got for "The Decision", he should equal amount of credit for what he gives back to the kids of SVSM, as well as all the other philanthropy he is involved in

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