In 2010, LeBron James, “The Chosen One,” humiliated Northeast Ohio by announcing on nationwide television that he was leaving the Cavaliers to play for Miami. James announced his return to Cleveland four years later through an open letter that set off euphoria in the region. This essay offers a postsecular framework to explain: (1) how James’s messianic image established a context in which his departure, in tandem with the way he announced his decision, made James a “sinner” in the eyes of Cleveland fans, and (2) how his open letter adapted the parable of the Prodigal Son to depict him as the son of Northeast Ohio who had made mistakes, rather than sinned and, simultaneously, as the wise father who was forgiving of others. James portrayed his departure as a necessary step in gaining maturity, yet—much like the Prodigal Son—admitted to a revelation about his relationship with Northeast Ohio.

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