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 RussellJim 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.”

 

Read the full story here.