You did it. You won me over. And you didn’t do it with your phenomenal basketball skills. You did it with your writing; just the way to this journalist’s heart. I have to admit that I was not a fan of yours, even long before you made “The Decision”. I was a Chris Paul fan for many years, before he left New Orleans. But that’s another story. I often rolled my eyes at the all the fanfare around the “Big 3”; even though the sound of Dwayne Wade’s voice makes me smile like a giddy schoolgirl. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping the Spurs would take the championship home this year. However, I have had a big change of heart, after reading your letter on Coming Home (as told to Lee Jenkins).
Your letter deeply resonated with me, and you have gained my utmost respect — not for your incredible talent on the court, but for your character off of it. Your story inspired me, uplifted me, reassured me.
I know that the NBA was your lifelong dream, like so many young men with a love for the game. You dreamed of being a part of it your whole life. You worked hard to get there. And when you got there, you wanted to win titles. I was a journalist on the brink of an exciting career with CNN, when I fell terribly ill two years ago and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease. Rare — I’m talking House type stuff here. Working at CNN was like making it to the league. It was my NBA, and writing great stories was like winning championship titles.
I know how hard it must have been for you to leave Cleveland, but you had to leave home to grow and to learn. It’s hard to leave the place that makes you who you are, but deep down you know that you have to . When I left New Orleans, I set out to tell great stories. It was hard for me to leave all the people and things that shaped who I was too. Just as Cleveland raised you, New Orleans made me who I am. It gave me the ability to appreciate culture and diversity, and to relate to different people from all types of journeys…something that has served me well as a journalist.
I witnessed stories of loss, tragedy and triumph. I learned how to tell great stories at CNN. I watched history unfold right before my eyes. Miami was to you, what CNN was to me. I gained my independence, my grit, and my character there. Just as you’ll always see Miami as your second home, I will always consider Atlanta my second home.
When I got sick, I imagined that’s how an athlete who’s made it to the league, only to be injured soon after must feel. I made a heart-breaking decision. I left CNN and returned home to New Orleans.
Like you, I always believed that I would return home. But I didn’t imagine it would be this soon. I could have returned to CNN, just as you could have stayed in Miami.
But I also felt I had a greater calling here at home. I knew I’d had a unique experience, and that my life was being guided by divine design. I felt that I could use my experience and passion here in New Orleans and have a far greater impact. I felt I could better serve this city. I believe that sometimes we are called to certain places or experiences at certain times in our lives for a purpose. We can’t always explain it. Sometimes, we just feel it in our core, and we know it’s right. I think you share this understanding.
I am writing this letter to say that I commend for you making what I know was a difficult decision. My city, like yours, has faced so much adversity. And it needs people who are willing to rise up to the challenge and do the tough jobs. It needs people who deeply care about what the future looks like here. Our kids here need to be lead, inspired, and we have a responsibility to use our God-given talents to go serve others. So, it’s time for you and I to get to work. We’re at home, right where we belong.
It’s been said that in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. You work for what you have.
In New Orleans, when life calls us to a challenge, we fight back boldly.
I hope that you’ll enjoy good health, (no injuries), much success, and long-lasting happiness at home.
I’ll be cheering for you here in New Orleans. I might even wear that number 23.