LeBron James added another appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated — in a way that may have surprised many in these parts, Northeast Ohio just two years removed from The Decision, the native son taking his unmatched basketball skills to Miami. Yet there has been in this region an outlier of sorts, Akron, the hometown of James, more understanding of the choice he made and ready to applaud his selection by the magazine as its “sportsman of the year.”
Sports Illustrated got it right in focusing on how James has gotten better. He has learned from mistakes, grown up, culminating in a marvelous run on the basketball floor, an NBA championship, MVP trophies for the season and the playoffs, plus a gold medal in the Olympics.
James has enhanced his already formidable basketball skills, improving his shot, adding post play, including a baby hook. He has matured as a leader. He understands more fully what it takes to succeed at the highest level of the game. More, his climb has taken place in the face of many wishing for him to fall short. In that way, he has responded just as you should.
Around here, there is pride in his achievement. There also is applause for another dimension that Sports Illustrated recognized, his deepening commitment to Akron schoolchildren.
LeBron James isn’t going to transform the city’s schools. But he has aimed at making a positive contribution to hundreds of young lives, setting an example, taking responsibility, seeking to help students fulfill their potential, to know that obstacles can be overcome.