Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook is partnering with the L.A. Promise Fund to open a school in Los Angeles, he announced Wednesday. The school will be called the "Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy," and it will include both a middle and high school. The purpose of the school, Westbrook told PEOPLE Magazine, is "to create better access to educational and outdoor opportunities for children and the community at large in South L.A."
I am excited to announce my @WhyNotFdn is partnering with @LAPromiseFund to launch the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy. Creating & supporting educational opportunities for underserved youth has always been my passion & now it is coming to life...this is just the beginning pic.twitter.com/w5ERsDqbSW— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) February 24, 2021
"I've realized through the work with my [Why Not? Foundation] how often schools in underserved communities lack the resources and funding needed to support their students," Westbrook said in a statement to PEOPLE. "I not only want to inspire and empower these students but I want to help provide the essential and necessary resources to set them up for success beyond the classroom," he adds.
Westbrook is not the first NBA star to open a school. LeBron James famously founded the I Promise School in Akron, his hometown. Retired players Jalen Rose (the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy) and David Robinson (Carver Academy) have both done so as well. Westbrook will help oversee the school's development as a member of the schoolboard. His wife Nina and longtime business partner Donnell Beverley will as well.
Westbrook spent the majority of his career in Oklahoma City before moving on to Houston and now Washington D.C., but grew up in Los Angeles and played his collegiate basketball at UCLA. Now, he is embarking upon his biggest charitable undertaking in his hometown yet.