By Justin Sink
LeBron James's decision to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers makes a "pretty powerful statement about the value of a place that you consider home," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.
"The fact that he's made this decision, I think, is a testament to the kinds of values that he has incorporated into his life and that he says that he's interested in instilling it his children," Earnest said, adding that President Obama was a "big fan" of the NBA superstar.
In an essay in Sports Illustrated, the four-time league MVP said he had decided to return to Cleveland after four years in Miami because his "relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball."
"It's where I ran," James wrote. "It's where I cried. It's where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I'm their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can."
The once and future Cavalier has worked with the White House on a number of presidential initiatives, including cutting an ad for the ObamaCare exchanges in March.
During the Heat's championship ceremony at the White House in January, James and former Miami teammates Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen also filmed a video with first lady Michelle Obama to promote her "Let's Move" childhood anti-obesity initiative.
The James videos are valuable free media for the White House.
According to Forbes, James led all NBA players with $42 million in endorsement income last year from top sponsors like McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Samsung.