A giant 'Space Jam' mural was vandalized in LeBron James' hometown
AKRON, Ohio - A vandal disfigured a large Space Jam-inspired LeBron James mural in his hometown.
A red clown nose was sprayed on James 'face early Monday along with the words "LA FLOP", a reference to James' sometimes dramatic reactions to fouls on the pitch.
With his new movie "Space Jam: A New Legacy" coming to theaters and HBO Max, artist Chardae Slater said she not only wanted to celebrate his basketball legacy but also have some fun and see the Looney Tunes characters from the Mix in film.
The mural is not far from his alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and the I Promise School he founded for school children at risk in Akron.
The now damaged mural is a symbol of the NBA star's love-hate relationship in his hometown. He is adored by many, but some Northeast Ohioans still hold grudges for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami only to come back and then go back to the Lakers.
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The mural of LeBron James Space Jam on West Market and North Valley Street was defaced by vandals who painted a red nose on LeBron's face and the words La Flop across the mural.
The new incarnation of the "Space Jam" movie references those career moves as the villain's villain, Don Cheadle, talks about James breaking the heart of Cleveland - not just once, but twice.
But it was love for James and his contributions to Akron and his school children that led Slater to paint the mural in the first place. She said she created the mural because there wasn't one for him in town.
Slater said that things like this vandalism are born out of hate and she tries to stay "positive".
Akron Police were made aware of the vandalism and Slater said they were hopeful that companies near the mural are willing to share any surveillance camera footage that has caught the perpetrator (s).
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Chardae Slater, 24, an art student at Kent State University, speaks about painting the LeBron James "Space Jam" mural on West Market and North Valley Street on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
At the beginning of June she started working on the colorful mural. She first created the mural on paper and then set up a grid on the side of the building. Then she carefully painted each block of the grid, one at a time.
It was a tedious task, and she often fought the heat and dodged raindrops, sometimes until 2 a.m.
It didn't take long for people and fans - even James himself - to notice.
Slater said James 'mother Gloria visited the mural and the social media accounts for James' camp shared it.
James' representatives did not return a request for comment on the recent vandalism on Monday.
Norton's Mike Plybon takes a photo of his son Austin, 14, with the LeBron James "Space Jam" mural on West Market and North Valley Street on Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
Since the vandalism used spray paint, it can't be removed and needs to be painted over, she said. She estimated it could take up to two weeks to repair the mural.
"It's fixable," she said. "It's just, 'Oh my god". I try to stay positive. "
This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: LeBron James 'Space Jam' mural in the hometown of NBA star Akron. destroyed
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