LeBron James a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, is passionate about helping kids. Now he’s putting some of that celebrity weight behind a children’s program designed to help kids address some of the problems they face.

Introducing The LeBrons Webisodes

The LeBrons, a 10-part animated web series centered around four Lebron based personalities from Nike commercials, aims to teach kids simple but important ideas, like staying in school and respecting others.

“I look at it as like the modern day Fat Albert” Says LeBron “being able to give life lessons to kids, but at the same time have a little grit to it, have a little fun and bring things to life in a cartoon fashion”

The LeBrons episodes will be made available via YouTube on the dedicated youtube.com/thelebrons channel and may see syndication on some of the popular sports channels.

King James will be promoting the show to his extensive social media followers – including has more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter (@KingJames). Facebook where he currently has more than 4.8 million fans while he James has also dedicated a part of his website to showing the series.

So is this just a commercial with a longer script?

The new show is sponsored by technology giants HP and Intel whose products (along with Nike) have obvious provenance in the initial promo video. Just how overt is the commercialism going to be? Are we looking at a unique effort to help young people discreetly sponsored by companies that care, or another commercial in sheep’s clothing?

Bill Masterson and Dan Goodman, co-founders of Believe Entertainment Group which helped develop & finance the show, assure us that it’s more than just a dolled up commercial.

Goodman explains “I think we just have to strike a balance. …I think that if you watch the content, the general takeaway is content and not brand marketing.”

Masterson adds “The number one thing is content, if consumers think it’s just one big commercial then that wouldn’t be effective [for the show]. The brands don’t want that either.”

This integration of brand and content is a growing trend that continues to take the products out of the gaps between shows, and brings them into the actual show or movie movie - often making it hilariously obvious. This sort of advertising isn’t new, and has been under attack for some time now by everyone from TV viewers to the FCC.

Thoughts on Celebrities as Role Models

Doubtless this will have some effect on the public’s perception of LeBron as a role model. What remains to be seen is will it help to paint LeBron as a sports start that cares and is passionate about helping kids, or as a villain greedily using kids to help fill his endorsement padded pockets.

The ‘celebrities as role models’ debate has been ablaze for decades, many rejecting the notion that fame comes with a measure of responsibility and others insisting celebrities should work to be a positive influence.

Charles Barkley is NOT a role model

"I am not a role model" - Charles Barkley

Many popular personalities have famously rejected the label of ‘role model’ including pop music star Miley Cyrus, model & talk show host Naomi Campbell and the rather infamous basketball great Charles Barkley.

While other celebrities acknowledge that fame comes with a certain level of responsibility including super hot award winning actress Scarlett Johansson, Vatican warlock assassin Charlie Sheen and famous for no reason Paris Hilton.

No matter which side of the argument you find yourself, I think it’s nice to see a sports celebrity getting media coverage for something besides juicing, not being a dog lover or chasing anything in a skirt.

What are your thoughts?

Personally I’m siding with optimism this round and hoping this is accepted as a strait forward attempt to help the community. Our kids need all of the positive influence they can get.