Open Letter to LeBron James

July 16, 2014

Mr. LeBron James
Cleveland Cavalier
One Center Ct.
Cleveland, OH 44115

Dear LeBron:

Cordial greetings. I am writing to you at this time for many important reasons which I pray that you’re able to relate to. First, I want to congratulate you for your decision to return home to Cleveland because it was one of the most honorable and noble moments in the history of American sports. Actually, your decision and reasons for returning home to Cleveland transcended sports altogether and has reached into the archives of African American history on a social, political, and economic level that no other athlete has dared to touch in many years. Outside of Ali’s stand against being drafted into the military nothing comes remotely close.

Surely the African American community and American nation as a whole is in dire need of such leadership. Naturally there will be many who will refuse to see the significance of your statements in the letter you wrote to the general public, but you so eloquently expressed the need to elevate your community – our community – that some will intentionally miss the point. You’re talking about empowering our people from a political and economic standpoint. Consequently, your action might even parallel Ali’s because of the empowerment elements contained within this political statement. This is far greater than basketball or any other sport.

I am a 51 year old man who has spent the last 26 years of his life in prison. I am serving a life sentence, which in Pennsylvania is tantamount to a death sentence. I am an ex-high school basketball star who got caught up in a whirlwind of trouble which I did not possess the knowledge or resources to disentangle myself from. Although I did not commit the act which ultimately landed me in prison, I was far from an angel out on the streets of Philadelphia as a young male attempting to mature into manhood. Nowadays, I work with the young men around me to assist in their growth as much as possible, and I often use my mistakes and pain as teaching tools. Moreover, I work with some committed outside organizations as I struggle for political relief for those of us who have been able to make the much needed transformations out of the street mentality and toward an activist frame of reference. Also, we’ve started a movement which we call One Hood United, as we work to transform our youth away from destructive behavior and toward progressive actions.

LeBron, I have said all of that to create some sort of context in which to view me. One Hood United is committed to doing the serious work of turning our youth around. We hope that this movement becomes a national effort to stop senseless violence and to move our youth toward a historical understanding which can save us all. Ergo your current examples are profoundly appreciated because sports are a good thing; however, we have responsibilities which surpass sports. And without the type of statement like you made, coming from our most popular athletes, we have absolutely no chance of teaching the examples that must be taught.

Winning basketball championships is nice, but winning the minds of our youth is more important, especially when you plan to use your wins in the proper manner. Brother, you have a tremendous amount of power, and I am proud of how you’ve chosen to use it. We certainly need more people on your level to step up to the plate and move us in the right direction as a community and as a nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart! I pray that this letter reaches you and that you find the time to reach out to us as we continue to do the things which must be done to save ourselves from destruction.

You can also reach us online at


David Lee


David Lee #AS3041
1 Kelley Drive
Coal Township, PA 17866-1021