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Thousands sign petition calling for LeBron James to replace Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Last Updated Aug 9, 2018 4:54 PM EDT

A group of LeBron James fans would rather see the NBA superstar go to Washington, D.C., than become a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for James to replace Betsy DeVos as education secretary, after the Akron-native recently opened a school in Ohio.

Such a shift doesn't seem likely, though, especially given the testy relationship between President Trump and James, who will soon produce a Showtime documentary series.

"Unfortunately, Trump and his cronies chose Betsy DeVos for us and we are stuck with an uncaring Education Chief who has fought against teachers and has even expressed disdain for the very department she heads ... at least until now," the petition reads. 

"LeBron James is an inspiration to kids all over the country," the petition continues. "He's shown he cares about America's youth and understands the power of public education in helping children meet their true potential."

LeBron James, Betsy DeVos

LeBron James (L), Betsy DeVos (R)

Getty

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 12,000 people had signed the appeal, which was started by a Care2 user identified only as "Rebecca G." The petition will apparently be sent to Mr. Trump after collecting its target number of signatures, which has increased to 13,000 as more people sign.

James opened his I Promise School late last month in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The LeBron James Family Foundation partnered with Akron Public Schools to design the school for students in the area who come from difficult circumstances. It will initially open its doors to 240 third- and fourth-grade students, and will add first- and second-grade classes in 2019. 

"The most important thing we can give them is structure. They just want to feel like we care," James said at the opening of the school. "They have the dreams, they have the aspirations. They just want to know someone cares."

President Trump made headlines last week for slamming the NBA star on Twitter, writing that CNN's Don Lemon "made LeBron look smart, which isn't easy to do." 

In an interview that aired on CNN before Mr. Trump made the remarks, James repeated a point he has made before -- that he believes Mr. Trump is using sports to divide Americans.


Editor's note: Showtime is a division of CBS Corporation, which also owns CBS News.