Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James made a dramatic appearance Saturday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium on the campus of the University of Akron.
James walked through a side entrance into a nearly empty stadium and made his way down to the playing field after thousands of fans were already gone or leaving the "LeBron Appreciation Day" event that was sponsored by several area businesses.
Several hundred fans who were still near the stadium quickly re-entered and watched James get presented with a "Hometown Hero" crystal ball trophy, which had been placed back inside a box before his surprise appearance.
"First of all, I want to thank the city of Akron and [the University of] Akron," James said to the crowd. "Akron is my home and life. Everything I do is for this city. I want to thank you for coming out. I love everyone of you. Akron is home."
James stayed for about 10 minutes before departing. He also received plaques and did not address his free agent status.
The event, which had around 4,000 fans, started at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to run until 1 p.m. It ended about 15 to 20 minutes early. A Fan Fest took place with games and other activies for children. James highlights appeared on the Jumbotron scoreboard with music playing and fans cheering. Several people spoke during the rally and skydivers flew down from the sky with basketballs.
James, 25-years-old, graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003 and recenly finished his seventh season in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has led the Cavaliers to one NBA Finals appearance, won two NBA MVP's and earned a gold medal and a silver medal for the United States in two Olympics.
LEBRON LOOK-ALIKE CONTEST
Danny Hopkins won the LeBron look-alike contest. Hopkins, 27, graduated from Garfield High School in 2001. He was one of three finalists and received the loudest ovation during the fans vote.
"I work at the Foot Locker in Belden Village and people say to me, 'Hey, you look like LeBron," Hopkins said. "I know I look like LeBron. I can't help it."
Hopkins facially has a strong resemblence to James, but his height and weight are much different. Hopkins is 6-foot-1 and 167 pounds, James is 6-foot-8 and 250-pounds.
Hopkins said he has met James.