LeBron James Is A True Role Model

LeBron James Is A True Role Model

Why people should open their eyes and appreciate what LeBron James is doing, on and off the court.
8505
views

LeBron James has come a long way since being thrust into the spotlight as a high school basketball player out of Akron, Ohio. He has been the most hyped NBA Draft prospect of all time, been drafted number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers (pretty much his hometown team), led a franchise that had been off the radar for some time to prominence, became a "traitor" by publicly spurning the Cavaliers and "taking his talents to South Beach "to play with two superstars on the Miami Heat, made four finals appearances and won two titles while there, came back to Cleveland to a fanbase that was still distraught about his exit, led the Cavaliers to two championship appearances in two seasons, and, finally, winning a championship which gave Cleveland its first major pro sports championship in 54 years. That is a lot to accomplish for a man who is just turning 32. The funny thing is, people still find reasons to dislike him.

Sure he's made some poor choices. He angered Cleveland sports fans by wearing a Yankees cap (his favorite team) to every Indians-Yankees game he attended in Cleveland. He publicly ditched his hometown team and angered a whole region to the point they burned his jerseys. He embraced the villain role while playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. He wasn't going to win just four championships in Miami. Not five. Not six. Not seven (he was right). He rubbed people the wrong way from 2010 to around spring of 2014. But LeBron isn't the villain anymore, and we all need to realize that. While the LeBron hate has eased up since he came back to Cleveland, it is still present. People find reasons for this. "He is an attention junkie", "He doesn't pass enough", "He passes too much", "He can't win without other superstars", and the usual go to: "He isn't as good and will never be as good as Michael Jordan, no matter how much he tries". I've decided I would let you know why LeBron hate should be nonexistent. LeBron has done many things right in his years of stardom and they should not be overshadowed. As for the Jordan remarks, that is for another time. I mean, is it really that big of a problem to not be mentioned in the same breath as an egotistical gambling addict who was only respected by teammates because of his fear-by-intimidation leadership style?

Let's start from the beginning. LeBron James was in the spotlight as a teenage basketball player playing at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. He was born to a 16-year-old single mother who moved them around town from apartment to apartment as she struggled to find a job that could keep them afloat. When he was young, his mother realized he needed a more stable upbringing and he ended up living with the family of a local youth football coach. Going from being poor, not having food or a dad in his life, and living with a family that was not his own to becoming the most sought after basketball prospect is a huge learning curve. LeBron took it in stride and in 2003 was drafted straight out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first pick. Cleveland, which is only a 45 minute drive from Akron, was like an extension of home. For the next seven years, LeBron James would not leave the Northeast Ohio area. He would not truly move away from home until he was 25.

His first go round in Cleveland included: an 18 win increase from the previous season during his rookie year (17 wins in 02-03 to 35 wins in 03-04), a Rookie of the Year Award (in a class with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade), five playoff appearances in seven seasons, one finals appearance (they were swept by the Spurs), no first round playoff exits, and a 42-29 playoff record. He did so with a lack of stars around him (Shaquille O'Neal does not count as he was at the tale end of his career). He also won two Most Valuable Player awards, was named to six All Star games and won the All Star Game MVP in two of them. He was the first true Cleveland sports superstar since Jim Thome, and that's a terrible comparison (no offense to Thome, who is a surefire Hall of Famer) because LeBron's celebrity and impact were many times greater. Those were the reason he was viewed as the villain when he left in 2010.

After the 2009-10 season, we all know what happened. James left Cleveland for the Miami Heat, a decision which was publicly aired on ESPN in a primetime event titled "The Decision". He left a whole region in Northeast Ohio heartbroken and angry. Jerseys were burned and hatred was spewed, but did you know that one television program raised $6 million and was donated to various charities? Even in LeBron's most famous "bad guy" moment, he still gave an incredible amount to charity. While "The Decision" may have been a selfish and egotistical way to leave his home in Northeast Ohio, he still used the earnings in one of the best possible ways.

While in Miami, LeBron was criticized by Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan for not wanting to be "the guy" and having to team up with superstars to win a championship. Let's keep in mind Magic Johnson won five championships, all five of which included Kareem-Adbul Jabbar on the same team and three of which included James Worthy. Both of those players are now enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Kareem has the most points in NBA history and Worthy was part of the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players list. Michael Jordan won six championships. All six of those championships included having Scottie Pippen on the roster and three had Dennis Rodman. Both are in the Hall of Fame. Rodman is considered to be one of the best rebounders of all time and Pippen was easily the best sidekick the NBA has ever seen. The criticism was, and still is, unfounded. Especially when the two men who dished it had that kind of help themselves.

He also lived up to the villain role in Miami, making four Finals appearances, winning two championships in four seasons (was named the Finals MVP for both), won two NBA MVP awards and was a four time All Star. He did that all while having a target on his back and being constantly criticized.

Something to remember is that LeBron was living away from Northeast Ohio for the first time in his life. He started playing in Miami when he was 25 years old. That is longer than many people live that close to home. James has described the experience with pretty good logic, saying:

"Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.

That is a great way to describe it, and a very fair comparison. When people go to college, they experience things that help them grow as adults because they are away from home for the first time. Although LeBron never went to college, his Miami experience can be seen as comparable.

LeBron made his return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, and he hasn't looked back since. On the court, he has become a leader for a team that features young stars such as Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, an older veteran star in Kevin Love, aging vets Richard Jefferson and James Jones, and other pieces that didn't fit with other teams, such as J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. He led the Cavaliers to a 20 win improvement in his first season (from 33 wins in 13-14 to 53 wins in 14-15), and two Finals appearances against the Golden State Warriors. They lost the first time without Irving and Love, due to injury. The second time around was different. They won 57 games and came into the Finals with a 12-2 playoff record and a lot of doubters. They ended up coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the 73-win (a league record) Warriors team in seven games. It was the title the city had been waiting 54 years for, and James was named Finals MVP to put the cherry on top. While we may be mesmerized by the redemption story and his achievements on the court, we should not forget his contributions off the court that have made him not only the face and voice of Northeast Ohio, but to people who are underprivileged, in need, or have overcome adversity.

James has helped revive a city which had been in poor shape by giving them hope, which shows the power of sports. He has also teamed up with the University of Akron to help revive education with underprivileged youth in the area. His education program, named the I Promise program, has promised a full ride scholarship to an estimated 1,100 underprivileged youth in Northeast Ohio who finish high school with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. That is an estimated $41.8 million. The University of Akron renamed their education department the LeBron James Family Foundation Education Department. That's not bad for a poor kid from Akron, Ohio that never went to college. James also does work with various other charities, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Children's Defense Fund.

Not only has he used his platform for charitable causes, but for social and political causes as well. He has openly spoken about African American equality in the United States, a touchy subject that many athletes and celebrities stear clear of. He openly endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, going as far as to speak at a rally on her campaign trail even though he was unsure of what to think about being on the political stage in such a big magnitude. While many would not agree with the Clinton endorsement, he still used his platform to speak up about a cause he believed in which is commendable to say the least. He also has been active in rooting on Ohio sports teams, even the Indians. He made sure they knew he was supporting them and that it was their turn to bring the city a title. Although they lost, James and his teammates were at the games supporting the Tribe. He has also been seen rooting on the Cleveland Browns and Ohio State Buckeyes teams.

On a more personal scale, James is a family man. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Savannah, and they have three children: LeBron Jr., Bryce and Zhuri. He is often seen at his children's basketball games rooting them on. Being a family man isn't always the norm for professional athletes, but LeBron has been doing well in that aspect.

With all of that said, to say LeBron James is a villain these days is an exhausted narrative. He has learned from his mistakes to become a true leader, not just in sports, but in today's society. That is why he is considered the most influential athlete right now and was named Sports Illustrated's 2016 Sportsperson of the Year. Not only is he an amazing talent on the basketball court, which we should cherish, but he is also a man who cares about people, his hometown (and whole region), gives back to kids in similar situations he was in, a devoted father and husband, and a true role model for many people young and old.

Charles Barkley was wrong about athletes not being role models. LeBron James has proven him wrong, and then some. He has gone the extra mile and has shown his human side. He is truly a once in a lifetime talent, but that talent stretches much further than just on the basketball court.

Cover Image Credit: The Cheat Sheet

Popular Right Now

12 Things Texans Hate About Oklahoma

We all know Texas is the superior state, but just why do we Texans hate Oklahoma so much?
4545
views

So, everyone on the planet knows that Texas is indisputably THE BEST state in this glorious country and because of this, we Texans deem every other state inferior. It also may seem that we have a 'rivalry' with Oklahoma (although, it's no contest which state is superior). However, this rivalry is actually more of a disdain and for many good reasons. That being said, here's a list of 12 credible, bona-fide reasons that Texans hate the state of Oklahoma.

1. The Constant Wind

Everyone has heard that the wind is constantly blowing in Oklahoma, but you don’t realize how annoying that is until you live here. You think you walk outside looking good, but the wind is like, “Haha, not today.” Also, it’s not the kind of cool breeze that’s refreshing on a hot day; if it’s cold outside, the wind is freezing cold, if it’s hot outside, the wind is a gust of hot, humid air.

2. No Buc-ee’s

If you haven’t heard of the amazing-ness that is Buc-ee’s, then you are missing out. Buc-ee’s is the most awesome gas station. They have everything, and by that, I mean everything. They even have Comfort Colors tanks with the Buc-ee’s logos, as well as the cleanest gas station bathrooms you’ll find anywhere. Unfortunately, unless you’ve ever driven to south Texas, you’ve possibly never heard of Buc-ee’s, which is a real shame.

3. Narrow Lanes

First off, the roads in Oklahoma are absolutely atrocious. The first grievance on this list is that the lanes are just too small. You think I’m going to be able to fit my dually truck and horse trailer in between these lines? Yeah, I don’t think so, that Prius barely fits.

4. Slow Speed Limits

On the subject of roads, the highways here have an average speed limit of 55. You have to get on a toll road to even have a speed limit of 75. That would not fly in Texas. How do you expect to get anywhere quickly if you have to go 55 mph? That’s child’s play. Texas boasts the highest speed limit in the United States, something we utilize to its full potential.

5. No HEB

HEB, aka the BEST grocery store on the planet, probably in the universe, but I cannot confirm, only has stores in Texas. And even then, the northernmost store is all the way in Burleson. I mean, you can buy Whataburger’s fancy ketchup by the bottle; what more can you ask for?

6. OU

The Red River rivalry is a well-known rivalry between OU (University of Oklahoma- Sooners) and UT (University of Texas- Longhorns). Admittedly, there is a lot of division between Texans on this issue, but if you’re a diehard Texan, then chances are you hate OU simply on principle.

7. Majorly Lacking Major League Sports Teams

As a Texan, we’re used to having our pick of major league sports teams, whether it be football, basketball, or baseball, and trash talking other Texans that root for the rival team is half the fun. All Oklahomans have are the OKC Thunder, and I guess hockey, but who really follows that any way? It’s America, football is king here and baseball is the national pastime.

8. Eternal Road Construction

Road construction is a necessary evil; it’s always going on. However, at least in Texas, you see actual progress. In Oklahoma, roads are cut down to one lane for months on end with no visible progress to be seen.

9. Increased Sales Tax

According to taxfoundation.org, the combined state and average local sales tax rate for 2015 is 8.77% in Oklahoma compared to 8.05 %. This seems like something really petty to add on to this list, but hey, I don’t want the government any more money than it has to. Also, when you start being an actual adult, Texas is one of seven states that does not charge state income tax.

10. No Coastline

Oklahoma is landlocked. For a Texan, whose home state boasts 367 miles of coastline (the 6th highest in the United States), this is stifling.

11. Mite Infestations

Apparently, this past summer and fall, there was an outbreak of mites that like to bite people. They were worse than mosquito bites and quite frankly, a pain in the butt to deal with. If you walked across any patch of grass, chances were you woke up with an itchy, red sore from this microscopic

12. It’s Just Not Texas

Any Texan can tell you, as we are know for our rather fanatic state pride, that there’s just something about Texas that feels like home. And no matter how many great things a city has to be proud of, nothing will ever replace Texas. Everything’s better in Texas and there’s no denying it.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Of The Hottest NBA Jerseys To Look Out For This Season

A new season is upon us with new fresh threads.

192
views

The new NBA season is finally underway and it will definitely not disappoint as the Warriors look to make a three-peat, new faces will star on new teams and of course, we get to see some amazing jerseys teams will be rocking this year. All 30 teams will have some amazing threads, but here are 11 of the hottest we get to look forward to seeing this year.

1. The Utah Jazz Alternates 

2. The Chicago Bulls City edition jerseys

3. Philadelphia 76ers City edition jerseys

4. Miami Heat City edition jerseys

5. LA Lakers Yellow jerseys

6. Milwaukee Bucks black jerseys

7. Portland Trail Blazers Black jerseys

8. Minnesota Timberwolves jerseys

9. Toronto Raptors "The North" Jerseys

10. Atlanta Hawks white jerseys

11. Orlando Magic city edition jerseys

This season is going to be a big one, as we get to watch old faces on new teams. Like LeBron on the Lakers, DeRozan on the Spurs, and Kawhi on the Raptors. It will also be very interesting to see what dope looking new jerseys all 30 NBA teams will be breaking out this season.

Related Content

Facebook Comments