Spring Hill, No. 602: For LeBron James and others, a place to dream

By Joe Vardon 37
AKRON, Ohio – As its name suggests, Spring Hill Apartments sit on a grassy elevation, just west of downtown Akron, and from any of its balconies, day or night, summer or winter, one can take in a panoramic view of the city.

The closest thing Akron has to skyscrapers eke out over the treetops, and Barberton, a neighboring city, is just visible off to the south. The hum of traffic from State Route 59 and I-76 reverberates nearby.

When it’s warm, a gentle breeze can provide the simplest dose of relief from the heat. On the Fourth of July, fireworks paint the sky, and the explosions echo off the walls of the balconies as though the rat-a-tat-tats are crackling through a surround-sound speaker.

Looking straight down, one can see East Avenue, where an old brick building with a white dilapidated marquee reads “Orders To Go,” and a sign out front boasts “Bob’s Hamburg, since 1931.” Some of the houses are nice, with fresh paint and well-kept yards. Others have cardboard instead of windows and piles of trash on the front porch.

Sliding glass doors separate each balcony from the living room and the rest of the apartment. The floors are carpeted and the walls white. In unit 602, a TV sits in the corner, up against the back wall, and a couch and coffee table anchor the space. Down the hallway are two bedrooms, one bigger than the other, complemented by one-and-a-half bathrooms. The gas stove is next to the sink, opposite the single-door refrigerator, on tile flooring in the kitchen.

From 1996 until 2003, this is where LeBron James and his mother, Gloria, lived – No. 602, Spring Hill Apartments. After they moved out, at least 15 people, not counting children, have paid rent and called that apartment home.