Huddle Up is a weekly Q&A with a Cardinals player on a topic outside of football. In this week's installment – and with the Cardinals headed to Cleveland -- outside linebacker Shaq Riddick talks about the love he has for his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and the city's most famous son.
Question: So how old were you when LeBron James started becoming a local legend?
Answer: To be honest, LeBron was big before he even touched high school. His freshman year in high school, he was averaging like 30 points per game. I can't remember how old I was. I feel like I was in middle school when he was in high school, but he's always been big, so I knew about him. I always respected him, but I couldn't be too much of a fan because I came from Akron Buchtel (High School), and (St. Vincent-St. Mary) was our rival. It wasn't like I was cheering for him, but I always respected everything he did.
Q: Did you already know you were going to go to his rival high school when you were younger?
A: Yeah, I knew I was going to go to Buchtel. I'd been wanting to play for Buchtel since I was a little kid. I knew I was already going to (LeBron's) rival high school. We beat them in the season. We would beat them in the season, but when it came to the playoffs we would always lose to them.
Q: Did you see him play in high school?
A: Yeah, I saw him play in high school.
Q: What was that experience like?
A: It was something to watch. He was a hell of a player.
Q: When he went to the Cavs, was there a point where your thinking shifted -- even though he was from a high school rival you started cheering for him?
A: Oh, yeah. I'm a LeBron fan now. I was a Heat fan because he played for the Heat and I want him to get as many rings as he can, get as many accolades as he can because he's from my city. It ain't St. V no more. I don't go to Buchtel no more. It's all about the city. When I was in high school, when we were in the playoffs against St. V, he would always be in the stands with his kids. He always came back to support his old high school.
Q: Have you ever met him?
A: He doesn't know who I am. I've seen him a few times, but I don't think I've shook his hand before. I'm an outsider when it comes to him.
Q: Well, he is big-time.
A: Yeah, he definitely is.
Q: How neat is that, to have a guy of that stature from the same place you are?
A: It's big. It's really big. It's the same thing I want to do in my football career. I want to be the greatest I can be just so I can shine a bright like on Akron. I want to do the same thing he did, but in football.
Q: Do a lot of people have that attitude there? It seems like people are very prideful in Akron.
A: Oh, yeah, most definitely. We're proud of where we came from because it's not easy getting up out of Akron. We've got pride in the people that make it out and shine the light on the city, because there are good people there.