Akron Rumors

“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.”
wpid-i_e2_1d_3b_182992046.jpg
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.”