Tennis

Andre Agassi Began Funding Schools Way Before LeBron James

Andre Agassi was once one of the most polarizing figures in tennis. At his best, he was an unstoppable force whose power guided him to a career Grand Slam. At his worse, Agassi was an angry man with many demons off the court. Years later, a healthier Agassi has made it his life’s mission to help schoolchildren in need, a move that both his fans and critics support.

Andre Agassi’s career

Agassi was just a teenager when he took over the tennis world. Born in 1970, he was competing against the best players in the world by 1986. Agassi’s relentless style of play and theatrical presence on the court made him the target of both ire and praise. He also became popular as a sex symbol amongst many fans.

Agassi was a force to be reckoned with on the court. He could take down behemoths with ease and let them know it, too. This is why tennis stars and fans still laud his two-decade career today. A young teenage heartthrob in tennis, Agassi was not just a tabloid-making distraction but a winner. 

Agassi hit a snag later on in his career due to a meth habit that coincided with his relationship with supermodel Brooke Shields. The two had a brief marriage, but Agassi’s demons proved too much and they quickly split. Thankfully for Agassi, he was able to recover from the pitfall and win several more majors from the late ’90s until the end of his career. 

Behind all of the good and bad of his career, the tennis star has been a charitable sort. With so much attention focused on LeBron James’ I Promise school, we must point out that Agassi has done something similar since far before James. 

The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy

The now-49-year-old opened up the Agassi College Preparatory Academy in West Las Vegas in 2001. The K-12 charter school aimed to prepare children for life after school from an early age and ensure they got the most out of their education. The school was largely a success. For an eighth-grade dropout like Agassi, as Time reports, this school means a lot. Agassi felt like he never had choices going through school and was given one path. His school is meant to give children this diversity.

“I hated what I did. My dad had a few rules, wake up, play tennis, brush your teeth,” Agassi said of his father’s parenting per Forbes India. “He saw money as the fastest road to the American dream and he saw me as the one who would carry the burden of achieving it for the whole family. That feeling of angst and conflict started at an early age. Moving away from home, turning professional, people looking at you and telling you who you should become.”

The academy oversaw nine graduating senior classes before handing operations over to another company. Still, Agassi’s involvement in public education lives on through the Agassi Foundation. With all of his earlier pitfalls, he’s spent his retirement working for the greater good.

Agassi’s greater goal

When Agassi isn’t focusing on the education of the younger generations, he is speaking about his career. Always candid about his successes and failures, the tennis legend openly discusses how he overcame life’s hardships. His Agassi Foundation has raised nearly $200 million for education reform. He discussed this recently:

“When your company is growing, what is most pleasing?” Agassi asked a crowd, according to Forbes India. “The first billion [dollars] or 10 billion? No. I assure you the best part of being with a great company is being able to work, push yourself individually daily, and engage in the participation. Failure and success are an illusion. Failure is not an event, it is the interpretation of an event.”

Agassi might have had a complicated tennis career, but he’s using those difficulties to do good in retirement. While many focus on personal enrichment after sports, he is focusing on building a better tomorrow.