INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James may go from idolized to immortalized in his hometown.
A GoFundMe account has been established with a goal to raise $1 million to sculpt and erect a life-size statue of James in Akron, where he began his basketball career before becoming a superstar with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Aaron Carey, who like James played at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School began the campaign to raise money to honor the three-time NBA champion.
“We want to do this with the fans,” Carey told the Akron Beacon-Journal. “We want fans to be able to thank LeBron for what he has done for Akron and the Cavs.”
Carey told the newspaper he has been in contact with artist Omri Amrany, who has created statues for basketball greats Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
James was touched by the gesture.
“First of all, thank you,” he said Monday when informed of the movement. “It would be cool, not only for myself, but for my family and all the people that had anything to do with this journey thus far. I’m appreciative even of the thought.”
The 33-year-old is trying to advance to the Finals for the eighth straight time. To do that, the Cavaliers must eliminate the Boston Celtics, who have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series entering Monday’s Game 4.
An initial rendering of a possible statue by Amrany shows James soaring toward the basket, with his right arm cocked back to deliver a dunk while wearing his signature Nikes and his No. 23 high school jersey.
Carey said a site for the statue has not been finalized.
“We really want this to be in Akron,” he said. “We talked to (Cavs owner) Dan Gilbert and he wants to put one up in Akron after LeBron retires.”
James laughed when asked if he had a preference on how the statue would depict him.
“I don’t have a particular pose in mind,” he said. “I think it’s the thought that counts, it’s pretty cool.”
Carey said a marketing campaign is underway to attract donors with deep pockets. The first 15 donors to contribute $30,000 or more would receive a limited edition miniature replica of the statue, signed by the artist.