The King is back.
LeBron James’ shocking announcement, via a letter posted on SI.com, that he will return to Cleveland has turned into a story that transcends sports.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson identified James as a rare example of an athlete who embraced social responsibility. “I have joy in my heart today because LeBron returned to Cleveland,” explained Jackson. “He wants to lift up Northeast Ohio—what a noble ambition. That's a level of leadership that’s rare.”
Indeed it is.
In an age where high-profile black athletes have been criticized for abandoning the kind of activism once embraced by Bill Russell, Jim Brown, and, most notably, Muhammad Ali, James’ decision to return to a Midwestern city reeling from postindustrial decline is more that just admirable. In a way, it’s astonishing.
James elegantly analyzes the larger meaning behind his decision in his letter. “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,” James wrote. “Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.”