ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - Basketball legend LeBron James surprised a group of Minnesota students at an assembly this week in Rochester, Minnesota.
It didn’t take long for students at Lourdes Catholic High School in Rochester to realize there was a celebrity on campus last week. Rumors started swirling early in the week that basketball legend Lebron James was in town, and while staff wouldn’t confirm it, the secret was out Friday when he surprised the student body with a last-minute assembly.
"It's once in a lifetime. It's something they’re going to remember forever," said athletic director and head basketball coach Eric Larson.
Video of James surprising students at Lourdes High School has been widely shared, after he posted it to his Instagram page writing in part, "to the faculty, teacher, coaches, principal, students you guys absolute ROCK!!!!"
FOX 9 sat down with Larson, who helped organize James’ time at the school, as well as students who got to interact with the MVP. All of them said James was focused yet kind, exceeding their expectations.
"Lebron comes walking down and he asks how school was that day and I couldn’t say anything because Lebron James asked how school was that day," said senior Nahom Assefa. "I’ll never forget it."
Assefa was one of a few lucky students who got to help with James’ private training session in the school gymnasium, rebounding balls for the superstar. Assefa shared that in the hour that James was in the gym, he missed no more than two baskets and displayed footwork that left the varsity basketball player in awe.
"They missed maybe two times the whole time and that was left-handed free throws - it was sick," Assefa recalled.
Larson said the Los Angeles Lakers requested discretion, which is why no one has a photo with the superstar. Yet, when some student-athletes wrote a note in chalk in the weight room saying, ‘Hi Lebron, put your handprint,’ the NBA player responded by leaving a massive print on the chalkboard.
"He wasn’t only a great player, he was a spectacular person and he treated us all so well," said Larson. "That was one of the more surreal moments was them asking us questions about our school and our community. It mattered to them."
Larson said James used the gymnasium, weight room, and football field Monday through Friday last week, as his son reportedly received medical treatment at the nearby Mayor Clinic.
Larson said when they asked James if he would be willing to say hello to students before his departure, he emphatically agreed. James delivered a motivational speech and even spoke directly to the football team as they prepared for a game that night.
"Lebron James told everyone you can do whatever you want to do as long as you work hard at it," said student Allison Restovich. "That stood out to me."