HoopsHype Akron rumors
Yet James' real legacy here is broad, etched not in titles or accolades but in these grizzled streets where the 29-year-old icon is not known as "King James." Here the chatter is just of "Bron," the kid who emerged through it all, from the same difficult upbringing with real challenges in a town blighted by the struggles of the automotive and rubber industries. "Cleveland thinks it has a sports curse. But Akron, well, Akron has a life curse. Hard times, hard lives," says local Rodney Rice, 50, down by the Perkins Pool courts, where throngs would huddle to watch a young James school older challengers in pick-up games. "That's why him coming back means something different to us. It is not about him getting Cleveland a championship, but a new reminder to the kids here that a person can make it big in life having walked these same streets." USA Today Sports
"People are walking a little taller," Dambrot said. "They see it for what it is. To them LeBron is not an entertainer or a celebrity, he is a person who came through the same things they did and found a path. It is great for the city. Hope is a powerful thing." USA Today Sports
"I didn't like the way he left and I told him that," said Barb Wood, long-time librarian at St Vincent's, a confidante for James in high school when the quiet of the library provided a welcome respite from the incessant attention. "But he learns from his mistakes and he is down to earth and humble enough to accept that. He has grown into such an impressive man but in that way, despite everything, he is still the same, sweet boy that he ever was. The funny thing is, when people say he is coming back, I say he never truly left. He is known all over the world, but he has remained true to where he came from." USA Today Sports
For a chance to see LeBron James, Rodneka Price drove seven hours and stood in line for another six. "I might cry when I see him," she said. James is being welcomed back Friday night by the city where he first bounced a basketball. The NBA superstar is being celebrated with an event expected to draw more than 25,000 people to InfoCision Stadium. James grew up in Akron and has maintained a strong connection with his hometown. James recently re-signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in Miami. To show its appreciation, Akron is throwing James a homecoming party to coincide with an annual "Wheels for Education" event hosted by his family's foundation. USA Today Sports
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