It may at first seem invisible to the naked eye, but Kyrie Irving was representing an entire city on Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day this past Monday. This city wasn’t Cleveland, his hometown or even a city he was familiar with it, but it was a city still mourning the loss of four students involved in a tragic car accident this past June. The fact that the star player and point guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers received a bracelet in commemoration of the four Brunswick teenagers, Blake Bartchak, Jeffrey Chaya, Kevin Fox and Lexi Poerner, on September 15 and is still wearing it to this date says a lot about what kind of a person Irving is.
In mid September Irving visited the Strongsville mall to sign autographs and interact with fans before it got time for him to go into basketball hibernation in preparation for the 2012-13 NBA season. Irving, who is known for tweeting back his followers unlike most high-profile NBA stars, took to Twitter after the visit to respond to fans that were thanking him for making the trip. That’s when I noticed my hometown pop up in his feed.
When Brunswick High School student Anthony Slane took to Twitter to thank Irving for accepting the “Blue Angel” bracelet and understanding the importance and meaning behind it, Irving responded with something that sparked immediate gratitude from Brunswick students.
Here is what Irving had to say:
Slane said he thought of the idea of giving Irving the bracelet on the spot while waiting in line to meet the Cavalier star with a friend.
“When I handed him the bracelet I told him about the crash and how the four teenagers died,” Slane said. “I then explained to him how they where all Cavs fans and that our city would love that if you could wear the band.”
Irving held the band up, looked at Slane and replied with a meaningful, “Of course.” Irving, who had no previous knowledge of the accident before Slane handed him the blue band, tweeted later that he was not going to take it off and that he was “blessed to have it.”
From the time that the accident occurred and now, the banding together of a tight-knit Cleveland suburb produced countless acts of kindness toward the families and those close to the victims. Having Irving, an NBA superstar in the making, display the bracelet wherever he goes means a lot to a community remembering the lives of four impactful teenagers. That was evident from watching his Twitter feed over the next few days. He responded to many former and current Brunswick students, saying that they were “basically family now” and that he is “honored to wear (the bracelet) everyday.”
“When I handed Kyrie the band at the mall, I had asked him to wear it through the season,” Slane said. “He also mentioned in his tweet to me that he is not taking it off.”
When the Cavaliers drafted Kyrie with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, I knew that Cleveland was getting a special player. I only knew of the basketball side of Irving and not much about his personality. Mind you that Irving is only at the tender age of 20, meaning that he is relatively close to the age of high school and college students.
Still, Irving has received national attention from his Rookie of the Year award performance to his play against Team USA in practices leading up to the Olympics. Kyrie is no stranger to the spotlight, but yet he still puts on the persona of a very mature athlete who wants to be involved in his community as much as possible. You won’t see a posse of sharply dressed managers carrying around Irving’s bags and doing everything for him.
At times Kyrie may act childish, but that’s all apart of who he is. He came into the Association as a confident and energetic 19-year-old looking to prove himself. More than anything, he didn’t want to let down the city of Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Irving understands how many fans care about him and see him as the most important athlete in Cleveland at the moment, so he does little things in return to show much we mean to him.
Little things such as wear a symbol of remembrance of four teenagers who had a profound impact on the lives of many. Talent-wise Irving is the best player to be wearing a Cleveland uniform at the moment. He may also be the most compassionate and loving athlete that the city has to offer as well.
There is nothing invisible about that.