NBA star LeBron James’ decision to leave the Miami Heat and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers erupted the city into celebration, evident by social media conversations and cheering throngs of people surrounding the city's Quicken Loans Arena on Friday afternoon.
And roughly 40 miles south of the city, the feeling seemed to be echoed in James' hometown of Akron.
In the Sports Illustrated piece announcing his return, James cited wanting to head back to his roots as one of the primary reasons for the move.
"My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball," read an opening line in the article.
While in Akron, James played several seasons for Keith Dambrot, then the head coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
On Friday afternoon, Dambrot spoke glowingly of James. He said the basketball player's return to the court will be great, but also pointed to the impact of James' philanthropic work throughout the area.
“It means we get probably the most famous person ever out of Akron to come back and be a part of our community even more closely than he already is,” said Dambrot, now the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Akron. “He’s done a lot for our community already. He’ll continue to do more and more.”
That type of complementary sentiment was repeated in a statement released today by Akron mayor Don Plusquellic.
“No matter where LeBron played basketball, he never stopped giving back to his hometown, Akron,” the statement said. “We are thankful for his generosity and excited to continue partnering with him on projects that help our children and enrich our community.”
James has owned a home in the Akron suburb of Bath Township for several years.