At the end of his celebratory press conference after reaching the NBA Finals in his first year back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James said the following (as I minorly paraphrase):
Nothing is guaranteed.
I can’t guarantee the championship.
But I promise we’ll play our (butts) off.
He used a different word.
That, my friends, is Ohio. That encapsulates the spirit of the Buckeye State and its people.
For sports fans in this state, there’s been some magic happening here in Ohio lately. From a favorite son of Akron who had gone astray to taste victory in South Beach returning home to a third string quarterback at THE Ohio State University defying all odds to bring a championship to the state. It’s the kind of thing that would be just entirely too unrealistic for a movie. Yet truth in Ohio is stranger than the fictional robots and superheroes and A Capella singers on our summer screens.
Let’s stay on the entertainment tip for a second. Don’t think Ohio has much connection to the world of film? We got the guy who invented the motion picture camera named Edison. There was also a director named Spielberg born here. And actors named Clark Gable and Paul Newman and Bob Hope for starters. A comedian named Dave Chappelle. That beloved fictional President named Josiah Bartlett? That guy who played him is from Ohio. As is his press secretary C.J. And his advisor Sam and that means Ohio is home to Rob Lowe and Peaked in High School Rob Lowe and Super Creepy Rob Lowe. Superman may be from Krypton but the duo that actually created him are straight outta Cleveland. Bart Simpson’s voice was first heard here. So were these voices… Dean Martin, Dwight Yoakam, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Roy Rogers.
Forget the fictional presidents. We’ve had 8 real ones. Ohioans built the first airplane. An Ohioan was the first man to orbit the Earth. An Ohioan was the first man on the moon. An Ohioan was the first to knock out Mike Tyson, whether for real or in the video game.
The list goes on and on with countless athletes and other game changers to mention like Jack’s Nicklaus and Hanna. Woody. Lebron. Ted Turner. Gloria Steinem. Cy Young. Jesse Owens. Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe.
Ohioans know this rich history and appreciate and value it. We also know it’s not always sunshine and rainbows and gold pants. There has been severe economic turmoil in recent times that seemed nearly insurmountable. There have been sports droughts that also appeared to be never ending. And it continues… Just who IS the Browns QB this week?
I’ve listed a lot of notable Ohioans, but the people who’ve inspired me in Ohio have not been famous. It’s been the same people that inspire you. Family. Friends. Coworkers. It’s the same people that inspired those notable folks in the paragraphs above. That’s Ohio. If you’re reading this from another state – have no fear. I’m sure your state is special too – but this post is about MY state. And it’s something else.
So we can look back in pride at these last few years in Ohio history. The state has dug itself out of recession to prosperity. It seemed impossible but it happened with dedicated people leading us there. Our football team had a field general who no one had heard of a couple months beforehand that led us to the promised land. Our professional basketball team lost a prodigal son only to watch him journey back and lead us to the possibility of a championship we haven’t seen in over half a century.
As that Ohioan said, it’s not guaranteed. That being said, from the air above the clouds all the way to the moon to the camera that allows for the subject this blog is usually focused on, Ohioans play their butts off trying. And that’s why I love calling it home.