NBA star LeBron James was in New York on October 23, when he witnessed something that made him melt. The 30-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers player saw his image on the Times Square billboard with the phrase, “Straight Outta Akron,” one of several billboard ads in a series.
James, who goes by the name “kingjames” on Instagram, shared this image with his 14-million-plus followers. The concept for the poster, which was an ad for “Beats by Dre” headphones, was inspired by the film Straight Outta Compton, based on the 1988 album of the same by hip hop group N.W.A.
Made very emotional by this ad, the NBA player posted the image with the caption, “Akron We Really Made It. Stuff like this still feels not real to me. @beatsbydre Billboard in Times Square,” along with the hashtags “Blessed” and “StriveForGreatness.” The photo received more than 100,000 likes in under two hours and fans praised James with comments such as, “You have shown dreams come true! #Respect” and, “Nothing but 100% respect for the king.”
The reaction this billboard triggered in James is understandable. Born in 1984 in Akron, Ohio, his childhood was marked by financial struggles, constant moving, and the absence of a father. Growing up in Akron’s seedier neighborhoods and having to subsist on welfare much of the time, this billboard must represent a surreal dream come true for LeBron James. He escaped his less-than-ideal start in life through basketball in school, coming “straight outta Akron” to become the first NBA draft pick in 2003, an Olympic gold medal winner, and NBA champion.
LeBron James, Instagram post, October 23, 2015.