I didn’t hear thunder roar

Didn’t see the lightning flash

But I know that He changed my life

and the heartaches in my past

I’m revived and I’m satisfied

know that I’ve been set free

All the joy I have within

He has given me.



“Those lyrics are LeBron,” Pat Riley says.

The legend who sits atop the Heat organization, boss to The King, recently recommended this gospel hymn to LeBron James, a song to commence the soaring. It is titled He Took Away All My Pain, by a group called Sounds Of Blackness, and it is about the liberation from anguish necessary to truly begin the most profound ascensions. Over the years, Riley has consulted with a library of generals and philosophers in search of inspiration, history littered with the lessons found in failure’s rubble. But later in life, as mortality approaches for a sports immortal, Riley has moved away from mere men and gotten closer to God, his journey taking him through scripture and song.

At the miserable end of the miserable end, back in 2011, Riley says he had “a bunch of [expletive] written down” to share with James at their exit meeting. About spending time with a psychologist. About working on a jump hook. About losing weight. And there were an assortment of spiritual nuggets and philosophical quotes, too. But he discarded it all as soon as a hollow, haunted James walked into the room, figuring that what James really needed was just to go somewhere and suffer, alone with his shame.

“He was in a very dark place for those two or three weeks of isolation and hibernation,” Riley says. “There’s nothing like going through it. That is enough. I don’t think, after what he has endured, this man is capable of being broken. He can be down at the depths of personal depression, but now look at him.”