Last Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers broke the fifty plus years’ championship drought in any sport for the city of Cleveland, Ohio by winning the National Basketball Association’s final game of the season. The championship belongs to the first team to win four out of seven games. LeBron James, who was born in the northeastern Ohio city of Akron, put the team on his back during the series and carried it across the victory line. Cleveland came back from a 3 – 1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors to win it all. The final game score was 93 – 89, with the issue in doubt until the final seconds. As someone Cleveland born and bred, this victory brought joyful tears to me.
Which is all very interesting, but what does this have to do with writing or books?
Last Sunday was also Father’s Day. I had known that the Most Valuable Player on the Warriors team, Stephen Curry, was considered to be a good father to his children and married to their mother. I had not known that the same was true for LeBron James. My respect for him rose immensely.
As part of the celebration, I read quite a few articles about the men and the game. One written by Chris Haynes and published by Cleveland.com revealed some of James’s history. He had grown up as the son of a single mother in the inner city and didn’t know much about his father. It hurt James a lot to see the struggles his mother went through. He decided at a young age to break the cycle of fatherlessness.
“Just breaking the mode, that’s all,” James said. “I wanted to be a part of the statistics that breaks the mode of fathers running out on their kids. That was something that I obviously went through and I knew from Day 1 that wasn’t going to be me. So, to have a family and be there for them and be there on a day-to-day basis is important.”
I was immediately struck with how often authors use their characters’ back stories to form their life goals and resolutions. This technique of using character history resonates with readers because it is true to life. We can see the promises made to the future in lives like LeBron James’s and in our own pasts. I find when building my hero, heroine and villain that is best to have a clear moment when the character makes a resolution about something that happens in his childhood. It helps me define who that fictional person is and why he will react the way he does to the story situations.
So thank you to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the championship. And thank you for the reminder that art often imitates life.