Basketball / Sports

LeBron James & sons pitch in on house rehab project

If that basketball thing doesn't work out, LeBron James might have a future as a heavy equipment operator.

The new member of the Cleveland Cavaliers took the controls of a backhoe Monday to help renovate a house in West Hill, Ohio for the family of a sixth-grader in his Wheels for Education mentoring program.

It was his first look at the progress on the project, being spearheaded by his LeBron James Family Foundation and the TV show Rehab Addict.

James and his sons, LeBron Jr. (Bronny) and Bryce, pitched in to help remove the front steps, a retaining wall and some porch railings under the direction of the show's star, Nicole Curtis. It may have been done for the cameras, but these weren't just glamour shots. James worked the backhoe for about 15 minutes, his confidence increasing until he was grasping landscape timbers in the jaws of its bucket and driving the teeth of the bucket into the concrete steps.

The boys got their turns in the cab of a skid steer loader, with the older Bronny even working the controls with a focused expression and Curtis helping at his side. That earned a double thumbs up from Dad. "You got it!" he shouted as the two eased a large hunk of concrete off the machinery's blade.

The rehabilitation started Sunday, and by early Monday afternoon the house was already showing signs of new life. Drywall had been installed over damaged plaster walls in the living and dining rooms, and concrete had replaced the deeply rutted asphalt driveway. Newly refinished pine floors were drying in the attic bedroom while workers created the base for a paver patio.

Even 11-year-old Mariah Riley and her family got into the act.

Mariah is the sixth-grader who won the house makeover for her success in the Wheels for Education program. She spent the morning stripping wallpaper, a job she'd never tried before. "And I like it," she said.

She was proud that her achievements in Wheels for Education had paid off in such a big way. "I'm just like, I can't believe all the hard work did this," she said.

Work on the house is expected to continue until Sunday and will be featured on Rehab Addict on HGTV in the fall.

Businesses donated materials and labor to the project, and additional help is coming from volunteers associated with those companies and the LeBron James Family Foundation.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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