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To the old man in front of me in line at the BB&T down the street I would like to formally say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the fist pump that you caught out of the corner of your eye.
I’m sorry for the moment where I’m pretty sure you thought I was about to rob the bank.
I’m sorry for any nervousness, anxiety, or concern for my generation I just caused you.
I wish I could have showed you my phone, and let you read the letter that I had just read, eyes widening at each word.
I wish you could have felt the same elation I did, not because I am from Cleveland (I am not) or have any financial stake in the Cavaliers (I really do not). Instead, the reason I dissolved into an overly excited, somewhat manic mess behind you is that I was watching the very idea we have been dreaming about for months unfold before my eyes.
A few hours ago, SportsIllustrated.com’s front-page banner loaded with three simple words, “I’m Coming Home,” and I’m pretty sure Twitter’s servers exploded. Click on the banner and what do you get; a highlight video? No. A press conference with a thousand cameras? No. Instead, right there on my phone loaded the words of a man who has decided to be a change maker.
I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
In a professional sports world where once a week I hear the words, “I never signed up to be a role-model,” I suddenly found myself reading the heart of arguably the greatest athlete in the world today as he chose to make his life about more than basketball. Yes, I understand he is projected to be paid 22.2million this year, and I understand the bevy of endorsement deals that will accumulate at his doorstep, but I believe that this man is choosing to leverage his abilities, his craft, and his wealth to help more than himself, to lift up a city.
You see Mr. Sir-in-front-of-me-in-line, I work for a leadership company. A company that believes with every bit of who we are that a community of people can change the world around them, that a small group of people can improve the lives of the many, and that great leaders are defined in the choices they make; this letter that I was reading behind you, this letter IS that leadership.
Yes, I’ve been a fan of Lebron James since he came into the league, and maybe that makes this these thoughts all hype, but I don’t think so. I think that today we can all stand up and applaud the idea of doing the right thing. I think we can look at this as inspiration, that making the right choice won’t always be easy, but it will be right. I think we can view it as a call to leverage our own gifts, talents, and resources for more than ourselves. Today, there are no bandwagon fans; there is just a community of change makers acknowledging one of their own.
To read the full “I’m Coming Home” letter, click here.