The athlete’s rags-to-riches trope is as old as sports itself, and runs parallel to the Horatio Alger-esque American Dream: If you work hard enough, anything is possible. But when you spend any time in an inner-city American ghetto, that ethos can make your skin crawl — reality doesn’t usually fit into a snug narrative like this one. But we couldn’t help get goosebumps as Gloria James narrates this new commercial for Beats by Dre starring her son, LeBron James, returning to his old Akron high school gym, now named The LeBron James Arena.
As “Take Me to Church” by Hozier starts with a piano tinkle in the background, images of Akron flash across the screen as Gloria James intones:
“Akron is home.
This is the city that raised you.
I’m so proud of you.
Welcome home, son.”
Thomas Wolfe was wrong, in this case.
Next, the camera pans over all the hardware he won as a high school student in Akron, and Hozier’s chorus crescendos as LeBron begins to work out at his old Akron gym.
Images of a woman raising a boy — Gloria with LeBron, presumably — are spliced together with James hitting the weights. Eventually Hozier’s song reaches it’s climax, and Gloria James proclaims, as a final warning and prescient sign of this summer’s remarkable Decision 2.0:
“Don’t ever forget where you came from.”
You’ll get chills, too, we promise. It’s a 21st century archetype, but when you think about all that James has gone through over the last half decade, you’ll feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
What do you think?
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