TV

What do LeBron James and an Orthodox Jew have in common? This is not a sports bar joke

Miami Beach-raised Michael Neuman is an Orthodox Jew who practices Spartan racing, a grueling sports competition held on extreme obstacle courses around the world. He’ll need that training when he competes for $1 million dollars on CBS’ ”Million Dollar Mile,” a show produced by basketball great LeBron James.
Miami Beach-raised Michael Neuman is an Orthodox Jew who practices Spartan racing, a grueling sports competition held on extreme obstacle courses around the world. He’ll need that training when he competes for $1 million dollars on CBS’ ”Million Dollar Mile,” a show produced by basketball great LeBron James. Courtesy Michael Neuman

Michael Neuman grew up on Miami Beach “in a typical Orthodox family.” He’s a mental health counselor who founded a firm that blends exercise and movement with his psychotherapy. And, judging by photos the 26-year-old sent of himself in training, he seems to be one buff man.

LeBron James is, well, LeBron James.

A Los Angeles Laker and former Miami Heat great. Some, including the deputy sports editor of The Guardian U.S., call James “NBA’s greatest ever player.”

One of these men has what it takes to win $1 million by running an obstacle course before a nationwide TV audience.

Want to place bets?

Viewers will soon find out when Neuman takes up the challenge.

CBS broadcasts his appearance on the reality competition series, “Million Dollar Mile” at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 13.

James is the show’s producer.

IMG_114_LAKERS_VS_HEAT_D_3_1_M9EUAPQ7_L435868991.JPG
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James looks on in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday, November 18, 2018 in Miami. DAVID SANTIAGO dsantiago@miamiherald.com

On “Million Dollar Mile” amateur athletes like Neuman can try for a cool million by completing the course but, of course, James isn’t about to give up the money that easily. To win, the contestant has to beat an elite athlete who has one goal: “to stop the contestants from winning the money at all costs.”

Neuman, who founded Movement and Active Psychology, should stand out. He competed “wearing his yarmulke and his smile,” a CBS news release said.

But to go up against elite athletes like James or host Tim Tebow or whoever “Million Dollar Mile” throws up against Neuman (we’ll find out Saturday when the show airs) it might take the power of prayer. Or a session with a good psychotherapist. Maybe Neuman knows of one.

“Imagine that, a yeshiva bochor [young man] competing against a pro athlete at his own game,” the CBS press release said.

IMG_0831.JPG
A contortionist twists up the competition in her attempt to prevent “The Canadian Crusher” from another defeat, and a family man who calls himself “100% Italian Bread” is hungry for a win against “The Machine,” on an episode of CBS’ ”Million Dollar Mile” that was broadcast on May 25, 2019. Michael Yarish WARNER BROS.

Neuman was home-schooled and attended yeshiva, he said, but competed in leagues and always wanted to be an athlete — better yet, a sports star.

He competes in Spartan Race, a global sport in which athletes run obstacle courses in extreme settings, like mountain ranges. He runs while carrying a bucket of rocks, crawls under barbed wire and traverses monkey bars.

According to his bio, he always competes with his yarmulke on his head in honor of his Orthodox Jewish roots.

“At first I was uncomfortable, people would be staring at me on the start line. But then I would remember it’s probably strange for them to see an Orthodox Jew on the start line of a sport. You just never see it in pro sports. My goal in life is to affect others and make a kiddish Hashem, so I was like, let me bring my love for Hashem to this as well,” using the Hebrew word referring to God.

Neuman credits his religious training with giving him the discipline to excel in the grueling sport.

But will it also best “the greatest ever NBA player?”

One thing’s for certain: Neuman’s got game.

  Comments