LeBron James is set to step into Michael Jordon’s very large shoes as the star of Space Jam: A New Legacy, the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 comedy Space Jam. And at 36 years old, James was the perfect age to grow up with the original Space Jam, which was the staple of many a sports and/or Looney Tunes-loving millennial. But the first Space Jam movie holds a special place in James’ heart, which is what helps bring his starring role in A New Legacy full circle.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, James spoke about how the original Space Jam was “a big part of my childhood” when he was growing up in Akron, Ohio. It made an impact on him as a struggling child in his hometown, and James wants to pass it on to “those students who are already falling behind and in danger of falling through the cracks.” In 2018, through the LeBron James Family Foundation, James opened the I Promise School in his hometown, which is dedicated to those struggling kids, who he hopes will appreciate his new role in Space Jam: A New Legacy:

“Oh, I can’t wait for that. That is happening no matter what. I will make sure all our kids get an opportunity to screen this movie. I think that’s going to be something that I will remember for the rest of my life, just being there with my I Promise kids, either at our school, or at a local movie theater, where we can bring all our kids, all their families. It’s going to be something special.”

In Space Jam: A New Legacy, LeBron James plays a heightened version of himself with a fictional family including 16-year-old Cedric Joe as LeBron’s son Dom, Ceyair Wright as older son Darius, Harper Leigh Alexander as daughter Xosha, and Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) as his wife Kamiyah. The movie follows LeBron as he’s having a hard time relating to Dom, who’s much more interested in creating games than playing them. Producer Ryan Coogler explained, “The general idea was the examination of Black fatherhood and how fatherhood could be unique to LeBron James specifically. There are parents who want to push their kids to do certain things because this is what they do, but sometimes you have to look into a kid and be able to have an open mind and ear to help them become the thing they’ve dreamed of.”

Space Jam: A New Legacy will arrive on HBO Max and in theaters on July 16, 2021.

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