GOING HOME

LeBron James didn’t turn his back on Cleveland

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">GOING HOME:</span> LeBron James, in 2010, when he first played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
GOING HOME: LeBron James, in 2010, when he first played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
AP

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

The decision by NBA player LeBron James to leave the Miami Heat and return home to the Cleveland Cavaliers is a testament to his character and holds lessons for us all.

Cleveland is not the type of place that people usually return to once they’ve hit the big time.

In 2010, Cleveland topped Forbes’ list of most miserable cities, with high unemployment and a loss in manufacturing jobs, a massive foreclosure problem, abandoned homes, poorly performing schools, crime and pollution.

“My relationship with northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James told Sports Illustrated. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”

He acknowledged the problems that Cleveland and his hometown of Akron, Ohio, have faced. “Our community,” he said, “has struggled so much,” and “it needs all the talent it can get.”

In so doing, James cast a spotlight on problems that many of our cities face because of deindustrialization, neglect and cruel policies.

Detroit fell victim to years of population decline, an exodus to the suburbs and eroding tax base, culminating in an undemocratic state takeover of the predominantly African-American city by Gov. Rick Snyder. Recently, the city government moved to shut water service to thousands of people who could not afford to pay, prompting some Detroit residents to seek help from the United Nations.

Chicago continues to be plagued by gun violence, with at least nine dead and 60 injured over the July Fourth weekend, and three dead and 28 wounded the following weekend. Chicago also closed 50 of its public schools last year, an unprecedented blow to the predominantly African-American and Latino children who depend on them.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia has fallen prey to Tom Corbett, the tea party governor of Pennsylvania who has made drastic cuts to public education while building new prisons and giving large tax breaks to corporations.

By coming back to Cleveland, James can show the country that there is a more compassionate way to handle our urban problems. In the last few years, he has shown that he is not afraid to speak out on political issues. He denounced the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, and he condemned the racist statements made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Some star athletes such as Michael Jordan have embraced product endorsements, but have eschewed community involvement and taking a stand, while other players have attracted attention for their personal exploits and foolish financial decisions.

LeBron James harkens back to the days of the socially conscious athletes, before the multimillion-dollar contracts. And he is setting the standard for the role of the athlete today.

“You know, God gave me a gift to do other things besides play the game of basketball,” he said.

He has his priorities straight. So should we.

David A. Love is a freelance writer and human-rights advocate based in Philadelphia.

©2014 David A. Love

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
SHARPLESS

    DETAINED IMMIGRANTS

    Dade, Broward lead the way

    Miami-Dade and Broward county jails have stopped detaining immigrants for the federal government at taxpayers’ expense. Florida’s other jails and prisons should do the same.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">GANG WARFARE</span>: The end of a truce between street gangs in El Salvador has led to a steep rise in homicides this year, adding impetus to the migration of youths and children to the United States.

    MIGRANT CRISIS

    The real failure in Central America

    The failure to manage the crisis of Central American child refugees at the Mexican border is not only about the inability to enact a comprehensive immigration policy reform. The real problem is the failure to build transparent and competent criminal justice institutions in Central America, especially after millions of American dollars have been provided to reform and strengthen security institutions there.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">EXULTING:</span> Vladimir Putin is still refusing to accept complicity in the shootdown of a Malaysian airliner as Western leaders fail to agree on sanctions.

    WESTERN LEADERS

    Historians will recall our leaders’ inaction

    When historians look back on 2014, they will note not just how flagrantly Vladimir Putin disregarded international law or how stubbornly Gaza and Israel kept firing missiles at each other. They will also be puzzled at how poorly the United States handled its economy.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category