In 2010, the people of northeast Ohio were devastated when Lebron James left Cleveland to “take his skills to South Beach.” It wasn’t that he left, goodness knows we have athletes leave all the time, it was the way in which he left. There was no gratefulness, no acknowledgement of his fans who watched him grow up, and no sharing of how he was sad to leave the fans behind. With much fanfare, he made “the announcement” and left. This led to the burning of #23 jerseys, booing Lebron when he came to Cleveland, and hating the former hero who we felt betrayed us.
Fast forward to July of 2014, when Lebron came back. Without fanfare or media interruption, he posted a letter to the people of Cleveland on Sports Illustrated.com. He shared, “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
With dignity, grace, humility and a heartfelt acknowledgement of the people of Northeast Ohio, Lebron came back. And, for the most part, he has been welcomed with open arms.
Frankly, I was very surprised, not only by his return, but how easily I accepted him back. His beautiful letter brought tears to my husband’s and my eyes when we heard it read on the radio. It made me realize that no matter what happened in the past, when you acknowledge and express gratefulness to the people who were hurt by your actions, you can make things right again.
If there is someone with whom you’ve had a troubling experience, try to come up with one good thing about your relationship. Then, make a call, send a note, and share with them something that you value about them. Your action may pave the way for a deeper, more meaningful connection, or at least start the conversation.
PS – Forgiveness works.