Keith Dambrot ran into a scheduling snafu and turned it into a chance to give back to LeBron James and to benefit James' I Promise School.
Dambrot, who coached James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and was University of Akron men’s basketball coach for 13 seasons before taking the helm at Duquesne, had a game on the schedule with nowhere to play. Dambrot’s Dukes were set to face Radford University on Saturday as part of the Gotham Classic. It was supposed to be a home game for Duquesne, but that proved impossible.
The Dukes were already scheduled to host the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship on their home floor that day. No other local arena would work, either.
It was Dambrot’s wife, Donna, who came up with an idea to solve the logistics issue: Play the game at LeBron James Arena at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with a chance to benefit James’ I Promise School. Dambrot loved the idea, considering James has done so much for the former and the city of Akron already.
So Duquesne and Radford will tip off at St. V-M at noon Saturday in a game that features free admission. Furthermore, Duquesne will be taking private donations to benefit the I Promise School and will be making a donation after the event.
“[James] has done so much for the people in Akron and for us, just his loyalty and commitment to the people who have been good for him, we’d thought it’d be natural to do something for the [I Promise School],” Dambrot said.
Dambrot and his players toured the I Promise School on Friday, taking in what James has set up for kids in Akron.
“We’re going all over,” Dambrot said on Thursday before the tour. “We’re going to spend time with those kids, get to know them, talk about LeBron and the things he’s done and the importance of education and giving back to your community, things like that.”
From near and afar, Dambrot has praised James’ contributions off the court as much as his achievements on it. Scheduling this game was in the works for more than two months and it took the coordination and help of many in the Akron area, including St. V-M coach Dru Joyce. With an opportunity in front of him, Dambrot wanted to contribute.
“Obviously having coached him his first two years in high school, I’m really proud of what he’s done as a player, but that pales in comparison to what he’s done as a person,” Dambrot said. “This is just a classic example of what LeBron stands for and what he believes in. He always puts up. He’s been an amazing person and I just have the utmost respect for him and belief in him and am so proud of what he’s doing.”