PHOTOS – 2011 LeBron James Basketball Tour kicked off its four-city journey this afternoon in Taipei

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The 2011 LeBron James Basketball Tour kicked off its four-city journey this afternoon in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Taipei World Trade Center.

Today’s focus was on two training sessions for two very special groups of basketball players, the children of the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the Chinese Taipei U-19 national team. One of the most renowned charitable foundations in Taiwan, Eden provides services to disabled and other marginalized groups around the country. This afternoon, 18 kids who consistently exemplified good sportsmanship were selected from each Eden community to participate in a one-hour clinic with James.

After warming up for ten minutes with two leading U.S. coaches, the group was joined by James, who came out to a loud ovation from the crowd and high fives from the kids. Shortly after, James joined the kids in various dribbling and shooting drills, where he could be heard encouraging the campers and even busting out a line or two of Mandarin, with hao qiu, meaning “nice play,” as his go-to.

At the end, one lucky participant, a 16 year-old high-school student named David, was selected to play one-on-one against James. Though he narrowly lost two points to one, David was ecstatic nonetheless.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” he said.

Next, it was time for the U-19 team to take the court. But, before they could start, James delivered a few words on the value of effort.

“It’s all about hard work,” said James. “You have to work hard if you want to be the best you can be.”

Fresh off their first appearance in the U-19 World Championship since 1987, the team was split into two groups for shooting and offensive movement drills. James then joined in on side and the two groups competed against each other in various shooting competitions. At the end, one MVP from each group was declared, each of whom was awarded with an autographed basketball.

Aimed at both promoting grassroots basketball and serving the needs of local communities in Greater China, the tour will span eight days over four cities, Taipei, Chengdu, Xi’an and Shanghai. In addition to providing elite-level basketball instruction to each region’s basketball community, the tour will also focus on its “Just Do It” campaign, which teaches children the importance of sports as a way to develop as a human being and accomplish their dreams.

“We can use sports to change our lives,” James said in an address to the crowd of high-school basketball players inside the Taipei World Trade Center earlier today. “If you love basketball, put everything you have into it and you will accomplish your goals.”

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