Just A Kid From Akron

With fans lining up at Lock 3 in downtown Akron for their chance to see LeBron at the Hometown Hero celebration more than 8 hours before the event was scheduled to begin, you started to get the sense of the magnitude of this moment. They had been waiting for this day for decades. Long before the world knew his name, Akron knew LeBron James as one of their own.

As the intimate venue became packed to capacity, a full slate of Akron talent began to entertain the eager crowd on the covered stage. Special speakers came to pay tribute to Akron’s own MVP including Akron Public Schools superintendent David James, The University of Akron’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot, St. Vincent-St. Mary’s basketball coach Dru Joyce, and the mayor of Akron, Dan Horrigan, and the theme of all of their remarks was the same: LeBron James is more than just a great basketball player. He is a leader and role model for the thousands of kids in his Foundation that filled the area closest to the stage reserved just for them. And that’s why all of his Wheels for Education and Akron I PROMISE Network students and their families received the front row, all-access, VIP treatment. After all, this celebration wasn’t just about a championship and an MVP, it was about his kids and our partners who have supported us since day one.

When LeBron made his way to the stage, he was taken back by the amount of love and support pouring out from the people of his hometown. In that moment, the smile on his face and his hand on his heart showed his deepest appreciation to these people who always believed in him. After he proudly shared the championship trophy with the crowd, he took the mic and addressed his kids.

"Every kid here, I want to thank you guys for allowing me to continue to inspire you guys every single day," James said. "Every single night when I step out on the basketball floor or even when I leave the arena, I always have you guys on my mind."

Even more than having a street dedicated to him, with the mayor renaming a section of Main Street "King James Way," and a larger-than-life banner hanging from the side of a downtown building, this night was about celebrating the hometown hero and his kids. Because after all, he was one of them. And he will never stop showing them that they can reach their dreams.

Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio had gone more than five decades without a championship. The 52-year drought seemed to define the entire region. But on this night, Akron’s own ended his speech with a welcome and inspiring reality:

"Guess what? It took a kid from Akron to end it."