A Copley Township, Ohio, middle school teacher reacted with positivity days after Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized with racist graffiti.
ESPN reported that Jennifer Pennington placed numerous signs with positive words on them outside James’ home in Bath Township, Ohio.
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Words such as “hero,” “leader,” “humanitarian,” “role model,” “mentor” and “good Samaritan” were written on each big white placard.
Pennington told ESPN on Sunday that she placed the signs about 10 yards apart on the 32-year-old basketball players’ property in response to the N-word written on the gate to his Los Angeles home.
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“My heart broke when I saw the N-word posted on (his gate in Los Angeles) because that shouldn’t be a word to describe anybody,” Pennington said.
Pennington told ESPN she posted about the idea on Facebook and decided to act on it once friends encouraged her. The English and language arts teacher at Akron Public Schools then traveled 15 minutes from her home to James’ neighborhood, where she spoke to a security guard on the property and told him what she was doing. She posted the signs on Thursday — the same day James’ LA home was vandalized.
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“I said, ‘Hey, we’d like to put some signs up, but only if it’s OK with the family,” Pennington told ESPN. “He said, ‘We’re not going to do any of that (here in the driveway), but you can put them across the street.’ So I said, ‘OK, sure.’ And then he was really cute. He said, ‘Well, actually, I probably should look and see what these signs say before I give the OK.’ So he looked at them and said, ‘Nobody should have a problem with those.’”
James has not publicly responded to Pennington’s signs , but he responded the vandalism at a news conference before Game 1 of the NBA finals.
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is — it’s tough,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”
Pennington, currently on maternity leave since giving birth to 3-1/2-month-old daughter Cecilia, told ESPN that James “is an inspiration to people,” and that she’d be happy if her daughter had the same qualities as the NBA star. She commended James for his work with Akron Public Schools.
“I get to see firsthand the wonderful things that he’s doing for this community,”she said.
“Nobody in this world is perfect, but he is doing remarkable things. He is amazing,” Pennington said. “As someone who has the resources that he has, he holds his head up high. As a young kid, we watched him grow up, and the spotlight hit him and he handled himself with grace.”