AKRON, Ohio — Community members in Akron are stepping up to help the artist of a Space Jam-inspired LeBron James mural that was vandalized earlier this week.
The mural, featuring the basketball superstar and Akron native, was created by Akron artist Chardae Slater. The vandalism included a red clown nose on James and the words "LA FLOP."
"First thing I'm going to say is this will not stop me!! I saw what happened to my mural and whoever did it should think about this.. why would you even take time out of your day to go f*** up what someone else did for the community?" Slater posted on Monday.
The vandalism upset many local residents, including Jerome Lane.
"A lot of people, you know, throw shade at Akron, but it's all what you make it. I love it here," Lane said.
Lane, the son of Akron native and former Cleveland Cavalier Jerome Lane Sr., says he's proud of the basketball talent the city has produced.
"LeBron, coming from a small town that he came from, giving us all hope, accomplishing the things that he had accomplished," Lane said.
That's why the vandalism hurts him.
"Every time I drive by and see it is like a cringing feeling. Like, who would do this?" Lane. said. "I'm thinking, it's some LeBron haters, but it's like at the end of the day, who would just go as far as to vandalize a beautiful portrait like this?"
Now, Lane is leading a movement to come together and help the artist fix the mural.
"We're gonna get this thing fixed," Lane said.
He took to Facebook with the idea, posting a message on Tuesday.
"I think we should come together as a city and fix that girls painting of LeBron that got vandalized couldn't have been one of ours who did that I mean ima do it regardless but would be cool if we came together for that !!"
The post garnered dozens of responses from people pledging their support.
"However much it costs, we are willing to get it fixed and put it together. So that was a beautiful thing," Lane said.
His other goal is to show Slater and the world how Akron steps up to lift up one of their own.
"Keep going; the city's behind you. We love your work, and we are ready to get this thing taken care of. We love your work; just keep going," Lane said.
Slater posted on Instagram on Tuesday, thanking community members for donating money to help her fix the mural. She also thanked the LeBron James Family Foundation for offering support.
This story was originally published by Jade Jarvis on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.