LeBron James is going home. Last Thursday, the best basketball player in the world wrote a letter describing his reasons for leaving the Miami Heat and rejoining the community that raised him. LeBron James has returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but more importantly, again ensconce himself in the northeast Ohio region that loves him dearly, and that he, in turn, loves back. In lieu of an announcement, or rather a “Decision,” James dictated a letter to Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins. In it, James clarified why he had chosen to leave Miami, where he had won two championships, and detailed that his decision to return home was about more than basketball. James’ letter is incredibly touching, and yet again reveals that he is an incredibly thoughtful person and game-changer:
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
Between this explanation of his motives and the wonderful essay he wrote about being raised by a single mother, where he argued that we need to support single mothers and not, say, castigate them, I am here for LeBron James. He has always been a gifted and jaw-dropping player. But if these writings are any indication, he’s a dude who genuinely believes he can change his own community and strives to do so. And he articulates that aim in a way that doesn’t blame folks for their situations, but by recognizing that he is a member of the community and that he has the ability to bring about positive change.
As a native Midwesterner from a city much less glamorous than Chicago, I understand the joy Cleveland felt when James made his announcement. The midwest is full of cities like Akron, like my hometown, where folks’ biggest goal is to leave–for a variety of reasons, one of which is the difficulty in establishing and maintaining a kind of livelihood that drove blacks in particular to those locations in the first place. (I’m one of those folks.) So it means something when someone not only expresses unequivocal love for these towns, but wants to aspire to help make them even greater than they already are. When the jobs, when the people go away have consistently just gone away, it means more than many on either coast can understand when a native son returns and says that he’s doing so because he flat-out loves home.
I’m so glad that the King has returned. We should all stand and cheer.