Dear Mr. LeBron James,
There are many reasons for the writing of this letter, but first and foremost, I want to apologize.
I have not been fair in my judgments and critiques of you in recent years, and for the way that I spoke of you and degraded your name I am truly ashamed of myself. As a life-long Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I, like so many others, was incredibly disappointed when you chose to leave Cleveland behind for the sunny skies of Miami. I can't say I blame you, as a matter of fact, I live in Florida now too, and I love every minute of it. I chose to attend school at Florida Gulf Coast University, the school you tweeted about after our sweet 16 run last March, and I did so because it was the best decision I could make for myself. We'll get back to that whole "did it for me vs. did it for them" thing later. From day one I told everyone who asked me "I'm not mad that he left, I'm mad at how he did it to us." I felt like taking an hour of national television to announce your "decision" to go to Miami was nothing but a giant middle finger to the fans and the city. I was so hurt inside that you could turn your back on a city and a fan base that did so much to make you the king you are today, a city who's buildings your picture adorned, a city that you breathed hope into after many years of depression.
I am not writing this letter to ask you to come back to Cleveland, but rather to say that I have made a mistake. I realize now, as a 20 year old student with far more experience under my belt, that you never turned your back on Cleveland at all. You still have a home in Bath, you still attend SVSM basketball events when you can, and most importantly, you are still hugely involved with your home community, from the Bike-a-thon in Akron to your initiatives to get lower-income children committed to their academics. See, I have learned LeBron, that there are far more important things in life than basketball, things that can REALLY make a difference in the world, and in this respect, you are a far greater man than many of those who use their fame and the limelight for much more selfish endeavors. I have been watching you live under the brightest lights and the most magnified microscope since you were sixteen years old, and at the time I was only 8. I remember going to watch one of your high school contests at SVSM and being amazed that a kid, a teenager could command such attention, both on and off the court. You are truly amazing in the sense that you have never backed away, but rather, risen up and shown that all the talk and all the hype was for good reason.
And that brings me to my next point; you have NEVER wavered in your commitment to being a good role model for children, both your own kids and the millions of kids across America who regard you as their hero and idol. You've been ripped by every outlet in the media in the past few years and somehow, you still managed to live up to all the hype that surrounds your name. Each year, despite being far and away the best player in the league, you dedicate yourself to getting better and to improving on your weaknesses, whatever those may be. This is good for you and your team, but it also teaches the kids watching you that you can never be perfect, but what you can do is work your hardest to learn from your mistakes and work to correct them. But even more importantly than all of this, you never let the pressure drive you off the rails. You never got arrested for recklessly driving 200 mph at 3 am. You never went out with your buddies and made the irresponsible decision to get behind the wheel of a car. You never wavered in your love and commitment to your now-wife Savannah and your two children. You never got caught up in a war of the words with Dan Gilbert after his foolish and pointed comments, something that I think we all know would have been the easy thing to do. But it has become clear that you don't do the easy thing, LeBron, you do the RIGHT thing, and that is why you have gained all my respect back (and then some) in these last three to four years. You truly had the weight of the world on your shoulders and you handled it as only one type of man could; a champion.
Even when facing the harshest of scrutiny, you always chose to take the high road. I will be the first to admit, I cheered (really, REALLY loudly) when you lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 finals. I will be the first to admit that I wished for you to fail, to fall flat on your face, to come out and admit that leaving Cleveland for Miami was a huge mistake. But now, I also have the courage to be the first to admit that in all actuality, MY actions were a mistake, and they really had more to do with me than they did with you. I was viewing things through a selfish lens, as we all sometimes do. I was upset that you left MY city, you left MY team in shambles to go forward and pursue YOUR own intentions. I was mad that instead of watching my team get 60+ wins and run deep into the playoffs each year, I now had to watch the likes of Jamario Moon and Alonzo Gee struggle to even win 20. And this brings us back to the "did it for me vs. did it for them" proposition. I know that sometimes a person needs a change of surroundings to keep them happy. I know that Miami offers a bigger market for you to grow and prosper. I know that you care immensely about your loved ones and their wishes, sometimes even more than your own. I understand that there are sides of this story I never got the chance to see. I know now, as a mature adult and someone who has had the opportunity to see more of the world, that basketball is what you do but it is not who you are. You are a father, a husband, a leader and a role model, but more than all of that, you are human. I now realize that you did everything in your power, that you laid your heart and soul on the line for us time and again, only to realize that winning a championship just wasn't possible with the pieces around you.
I can only imagine how hard the first 18 months in Miami must have been, with media and sour former fans sending nothing but negativity and hate your way. I am not proud of it but I was included in that group. But now, I applaud you for continuing to improve yourself both as a player and as a person and continuing to grow. I honestly never thought this day would come, when I really had closure about this issue and was able to say to my Heat fan friends "I don't hate LeBron" and truly mean it. But just like you, these last few years have afforded me a new perspective too. I learned to appreciate what people CAN give you, what they HAVE given you, and that focusing on the things that they don't or didn't give you only ends up dragging us all down. So for the first time, I want to say thank you LeBron, for 7 great years that I look back on as my fondest years of being a Cleveland fan. I hope that someday I might have the chance to feel that way again and see you back in the wine and gold that you wear so well. But if that time ever comes, I want it to be because YOU chose it, not because you felt forced to return to complete some unfinished duty. I hope that as more time passes and the wound continues to heal, more people will come to the realizations that I have come to, and they too will turn a corner and learn to applaud you once again. You really deserve all the good fortune coming your way, your hard work and determination have earned you everything you have and I hope that you and your family stay healthy and continue to prosper. So keep working LeBron, keep inspiring kids to learn and grow, keep giving to the underprivileged in your community, keep being the exceptional role model that you are and I know that with time, the detractors will realize that you're not the villain they make you out to be.