A large crowd packed Mexico High School’s gymnasium last Saturday as its hometown hero Tyronn Lue returned to town for a Home Court Celebration.
Just one week earlier, Lue coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title and gave a shout out three different times to Mexico, Mo. after the big win.
“…Everyone talks about what I did (for) Mexico…but what you don’t understand, is the reason I come home, where I was born and raised my whole life…is that you guys give me a chance to be normal,” Lue said to a crowd that gave him the ‘Lue’ cheer that echoed the gym before he spoke.
He said many people during his NBA career talked about him being “so down to earth” and “so homey.”
“Coming from Mexico, they make sure you’re humble,” he said. “…Just for me, you know just to have a chance and opportunity to come home and see the kids and how they are getting older and how they make me feel old with the grey hair….It’s just a great thing to be a part of.”
Lue said before Game 7, he had a chance to visit a prison in San Francisco.
He was walking on the yard when prisoners came up to greet him and even welcome him to their facility.
From a discussion with the prison warden where it was noted that one bad night can change the lives for inmates, Lue shared that conversation with his players.
Lue also shared a story about Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
He said he told everybody in the locker room to give him $100 and it was hid in the visitors locker room at Oracle Arena.
Lue said he told his team we’re going to win Games 5 and 6 then go back to Oracle Arena, get their money, and win the trophy.
After the win in Game 7, Lue said Lebron James asked the team to refrain from celebrating with the champagne asking where the $100 was at.
Lue then took some questions from the crowd.
The celebration began with a musical presentation from a choir of children representing the Second Missionary Baptist Church, St. Luke United Methodist Church, and the St. Paul CME Church. The choir was under the direction of Daniel Nunnelly.
Dan Erdel gave the welcome to the event that felt like a pep rally.
Mexico Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Freeman made some brief remarks.
Superintendent Freeman presented Lue with a plaque that included an honorary varsity letter and an honorary Mexico High School graduation certificate.
Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce President Connie Maxwell-Cox followed by saying how proud the chamber was of Lue.
“On behalf of all the Mexico Chamber of Commerce and our members, I just want to say thank you for the shout-out on national TV,” Maxwell-Cox said to a loud applause from those packing the gym. “I don’t think there was anybody that wasn’t on their feet jumping up and down and yelling in their living room when you said Mexico, Missouri…There’s so much excitement in town. It’s just been crazy with so much media attention.”
She said one newspaper said the shout-out was worth about $400,000 in free advertising.
Maxwell-Cox praised the businesses and members of the community who rallied around the event to make it possible.
A Tyronn Lue Community Day of Service has been established for the Fall. An official “Home Court” plaque was then presented to Lue.
Chris Williams, the City of Mexico’s Chairman Pro-Tem, followed by presenting the key to the city to Lue. A proclamation was also read to commemorate Lue’s accomplishment.
“…And we honor you not only for your accomplishments but also the fact that you never forgot where it is you come from,” Williams said in his presentation.
Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs spoke on behalf of the commission and all of the elected officials and congratulated Lue.
Rep. Travis Fitzwater (District 49) noted how Lue’s team won the finals “against all odds.”
He noted how Lue may have unified the Mexico, Mo. community more than anybody has ever unified the community.
Rep. Fitzwater presented proclamations on behalf of Rep. Jay Houghton (District 43) and Senator Jeanie Riddle (District 10).
He had Lue sign his shirt and had him take a selfie with the NBA championship trophy, which was also in Mexico, Mo. for the celebration.
Rev. Dr. Ayanna Shivers said the closing prayer.
Lue’s motorcade first arrived in Mexico at 11 a.m. as it was escorted by Mexico Public Safety, Little Dixie Fire District and school buses filled with Summer School students from Mexico Public Schools, along with the Mexico Dixie Gray Band.
He also hosted an amazing Fireworks display that was open to the public at dusk on Sunday, July 3. Meanwhile, several businesses made murals and displays to honor Lue and his Cavaliers throughout town.