I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but at the tender age of one week old my family moved me to Akron, Ohio. The importance my city holds to me is unexplainable. Harder to explain is the impact our hometown hero has made on my life. I’ll never forget the first LeBron James jersey I ever bought during my middle school years. I wore that jersey every single day. I was inspired by LeBron to want to be the best version of myself that I could be. I wanted to have the kind of impact on our city that I saw he had on Akron. LeBron brought my whole family together almost every night when we would sit and watch him dominate on the court. Most memorable was the run we had to the NBA Finals back in 2007.

I’ll give you the spark notes version of the next part of the story: Cleveland beat Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals only to get swept by the Spurs in the Finals. Eventually, after years of bad free agent deals, LeBron left the Cavaliers and went to Miami. The day LeBron left was more devastating than any break up I had in college. He left a city shattered and disappointed in him. At that point I knew two things: he took the easy way out, and his career (should he not come back) was always going to be tarnished. Sure, he won some rings with Miami, but they had already won before. He took the easy way out to selfishly get what he wanted, leaving behind a city that called him son.

WATCH: The Story Behind the Strength Coach — Donald Day

And I’m not talking about Cleveland. Although his departure was felt in Cleveland, it was catastrophically felt in Akron and everyone who had Akron in their heart. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but LeBron’s fall from grace paralleled what I was going through at the time. I was a popular athlete (though not for my athletic ability, unfortunately) that was going through my own personal turmoil. I had what seemed like the whole world judging me. I had to figure out who I was by leaving Akron, but knew that I wasn’t going to make a legacy for myself where I was — not due to the city but due to my own inner turmoil. So graduation came, exit stage left, skip and a hop, and I was back at Akron.

It was around the time of LeBron’s free agency I got wind that he may be coming back. At this point in time I was a graduate assistant at the University of Akron ready to graduate with my master's degree, doing something that truly none of my peers (or even myself) thought that I could accomplish. I was just some kid from Akron who barely passed college; the odds of getting a master's was impossible for me. Just as impossible as the chances of LeBron coming back to the Cavaliers and taking us to a championship. He couldn’t fix his legacy now. He would come back and we would lose and he would leave again. In my mind the narrative was already written. But then it happened. LeBron James was back home!

Basketball and Hand Gripping

“Grandma, can you get my jerseys out of the box, I’m going to come pick them up!”

LeBron had done great things while he was away, but that didn’t make what he did excusable. Akron is not Los Angeles; we don’t just forgive so easily. LeBron knew the challenges ahead of him and immediately got to work. He realized that he had strayed far off the beaten path, but he also realized he’s only human. People make mistakes. And thankfully even the biggest mistakes can be fixed — they just require tremendous effort to be fixed. And year two, game seven of the NBA Finals after being down 3-1, those mistakes were fixed. The Legacy was forged. A man who had selfishly abandoned his responsibilities, his destiny, and strayed off the beaten path had come back to finish what he was “chosen” to do.

By the time LeBron completed his legacy I was an assistant strength coach at Western Kentucky University, seven hours away from home, watching my idol accomplish something that’s never been done in the history of the NBA. All was right with the world. But it made me think a lot. It made me think about my legacy and my journey. See, I didn’t write this article just to gloat about LeBron James. I used LeBron James as a catalyst. Basketball is LeBron’s job. At the end of the day it’s what puts food on the table. But that isn’t all he is. Every year since he was drafted, he has donated back to the city in terms of a bike giveaway to hundreds of children in the city of Akron. He has also helped rebuild the University of Akron and has set in place a plan to put hundreds of hundreds of kids in school for free. You see, there’s more to a legacy than just the championship rings or business success.

There are millions of people who are inspired each day by the actions of a man or woman they have never met. Figureheads such as Gandhi or Mother Teresa have inspired more people to do great things that most would have ever believed possible. Why? Because they showed that the ordinary have the power to do the extraordinary. With that being said, a strength coach who is just trying to win some football games seems pretty minuscule. But winning is not what I want my legacy to be. Sure, I want championships. I want a BCS National Title, I want countless conference and bowl championships, but that’s not what I want my legacy to be. I want to inspire the ordinary to be extraordinary. I want to be an 80-year-old man sitting at a banquet for one of my former athletes because they discovered a cure for cancer or are accepting a Nobel Peace Prize. I want to inspire my athletes to be the greatest versions of themselves they can be.

Football is not an easy game. And trust me, it’s no easy task to play this amazing game. Our kids are away from their families and have to face responsibilities that most kids their age won’t face until their mid to late 20’s. They bust their tails all year long for 14 days. There is a 351-day sacrifice for 14 days. And only 14 if you’re lucky enough to play for a conference championship and a bowl game as well. So when I say I don’t want my legacy to be displayed by our on-field accomplishments, I am not scoffing at the sacrifices made to accomplish those things. But those accomplishments are only four to five years of a student athlete’s life. If I don’t prepare them for the next sixty years after that then shame on me.

Our legacy, as coaches, will be written by how we affect those around us — how we impact the athletes we vow to transform into better men and women. One day, my student athletes will reminisce about how great the good old days were and look back with fond memories. But I hope that’s not in a jail cell or in a rehab facility. I hope it’s at a teammate's wedding or at their child’s college graduation. Remembering that it only takes a little bit extra for the ordinary to do the extraordinary.

I will leave you with this: I am not inspired by LeBron James' rings, or the fact that he’s the best player in the world. If that were the case I’d be a Tom Brady fan as well (which I’m not). I’m inspired by the lives he has changed, the influence he has over the hearts of a whole city and state, and the fact he’s a local boy who dreamed big and constantly gives back to the city that made him who he is. He was just an ordinary kid who stumbled at times, like we all do, but got back on track and showed that it only takes a little bit extra to do the extraordinary.