Lebron and the Rubber City Poem

Celebrating the Kings 10th year in the NBA, Nike got together with poet Lemon Andersen to create the “Rubber City” poem.

As LeBron James celebrates a full decade in the league, Nike Basketball is proud to commemorate the occasion with the poem “Rubber City Soul” by Lemon Andersen.

Ten years ago, Andersen wrote “King,” a piece that paid tribute to James’s ascension into professional basketball. Andersen was invited by Nike to perform his work live in front of James.

Nike is again partnering with Andersen to salute James’s decade in the league with a new piece that pays homage to James’s upbringing in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The poem also celebrates his championships while looking forward to his future path.

Andersen’s poem symbolically culminates with: “Talent is given, Greatness is earned.”

RUBBER CITY SOUL
For In a land far away

Under a blanket of the stars
On a moonless night
a child was born in a kingdom
Of basketball gods

In a county they called
the summit
north of the capital
a rubber city
Where the Akronites run it

This child earned
Learned
the labors of his love
From watching his neighbors
Rise above hard work
At the local mills
Watching the sweat of their brow
Seeing his comrades growing up
Trying to conquer the hill
A steep field of wheat
worn from cleats and cold
pounding the bottom of their soles
Against tough Ohio winters
and unconditional vertigo

But he rose
from the dusk
of Elizabeth Park
And her projects
till the arrival of the dawn
rose from a high school phenom
Straight to the pros
never forgetting how
the sun set on Lake Erie
How the rough waters
of the spotlight
can ravage
Flow savagely along
always high tide
Knowing the odds against him
Yet his will to compete
Remained Hickory Street strong

For In all this love for his land
He learned to live
by the code of a warriors song
and glorious were the
wins stacked
to the back of the wall
banners dropped
from the top of the rafters
For all the world to see
this man child rise up
against the odds
under the Akronite philosophy
In his mind ever burned:
Talent is given
Greatness is earned.

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