The basketball superstar is going home to Cleveland. Why? He tells Sports Illustrated:
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.
I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.
I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. 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. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
I’m kind of speechless, is what I am. Good on him!
UPDATE: From The Little Way Of Ruthie Leming:
When we returned to Philadelphia we broke the news to our friends that we were moving to Louisiana.We made sure to explain that we weren’t moving away from something bad—we loved them, and we loved our Philly life—but toward something good. We expected a lot of Green Acres jokes and bourgeois-bohemian ribbing about how hard it would be to live in a town without a Thai restaurant and an organic market, but the reactions were not at all what I expected. Our decision occasioned a number of e-mails and personal conversations, some of which were startlingly intimate, even painful.
Some told me stories about how isolated they felt, even in the city, and how lonely they are for community. Others talked about how much they envy me having a place like St. Francisville to go back home to; their families moved around so much that there’s no anchorage in which they can find safe harbor. Still others expressed sorrow at how much they want what the people in St. Francisville have, but how very far they are from being able to get it. One friend living in Washington, DC, said that despite his broad social network, he couldn’t think of a single person he’d trust enough to authorize to pick his kid up from day care in the event of an emergency. Another friend spoke to me with disarming bluntness about the loneliness and helplessness he and his wife are going through.
“Everything I’ve done has been for career advancement. Go for the money, the good jobs. And we have done well. But we are alone in the world,” he said. “Almost everybody we know is like that. My family is all over the country. My kids only call if they want something. People like us, when we get old, our kids can’t move back to care for us if they wanted to because we all go off to some golf resort to retire. This is the world we have made for ourselves. I envy you that you get to escape it.”
Our friend Edie Varnado, who lives in the country outside of McComb, Mississippi, and makes soap for a living, wrote to encourage Julie and me. She told us that she and her husband stayed in Mississippi in part to be close to her folks. Her brother moved to New York City. One night, over dinner, Edie’s father said to her, “Even with everything you have, or will have, to deal with, you have the better part.”
She laughed gently at that, but her father looked at her seriously and said, “You really have.” As the years went by she saw her father was right. Her brother carries with him his own mythology of all the hurts he experienced as a child. Edie had the time and the luxury to become reacquainted with her parents as adults, as real people, for better and for worse. Edie was able to be with both her mother and father when they died, holding their hands and reading the Psalms.
“It’s hard, big, real, and dirty,” Edie wrote of what lay before Julie and me.
And by Christmas it would be ours.
We told the children that we were moving to Louisiana in December, that they would have Christmas with Mam and Paw, and Uncle Mike, and the cousins, Lucas pumped his fist in the air and yelled, “Boo-yah!” There would be family in my children’s future. There would be crawfish, and jambalaya, and deer hunting, and LSU football, and all the good things that I had growing up (and, I hoped, fewer of the bad things).