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Story, photo and video by Ryan Isley

AKRON, Ohio — Brian Windhorst has been on many basketball courts in his career and has seen many midcourt celebrations and presentations. But last weekend, Windhorst was at midcourt for a different reason.

The 1996 graduate of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School was inducted into the STVM Athletic Hall of Fame.

“I am happy to have the honor,” Windhorst said. “Obviously, it is my high school so it’s a nice honor. I don’t really think I belong in the Hall of Fame, but that’s not up to me.”

The reason Windhorst doesn’t believe he belongs is that he wasn’t a standout athlete like a number of the other honorees who have had their names called for induction. In his four years at STVM, Windhorst played on the golf team, but he knew he wasn’t destined for the PGA Tour.

“I wasn’t much of an athlete here,” Windhorst said. “I was the fifth man on the golf team — on a five-man team.”

But what Windhorst did excel at in the world of Fighting Irish athletics was the written word, which is what earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

While a student at STVM, he was the sports page editor of the Leprechaun Gold Irish newspaper. While he didn’t have any specific goals at the time, he enjoyed being around sports and worked hard at everything he did.

That hard work and dedication earned him a job at the Akron Beacon Journal while he attended Kent State University.

After graduating from Kent State, Windhorst was named the Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer for the Beacon Journal in 2003, the same season LeBron James — another STVM Hall of Famer — was drafted by the team.

With the new position, Windhorst was the youngest traveling NBA beat writer in the league. He would later join the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2008.

“I did work really hard,” Windhorst said. “I worked through my teens and my 20s, and it opened up some opportunities for me.”

One of those opportunities was with ESPN in the summer of 2010. Right after LeBron made the move to leave the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat where he would join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, ESPN launched a new section on its website called the “Heat Index.” 

Windhorst joined ESPN and became a contributor to the site.

Many people criticized Windhorst at the time, saying he was just following LeBron and trying to make a name off the NBA superstar, but time would show that Windhorst had put in the hard work necessary to get where he was.

“You can’t control what people think about you. You can only control your results, and you can control how well you perform,” Windhorst said. “That is something I have always lived by. I have been very, very fortunate, but I have also put in a lot of hard work.”

The senior ESPN NBA writer also knows that timing was on his side as well when it came to LeBron. He began covering the NBA superstar when LeBron was a freshman in high school and had the chance to cover him through his first stint in Cleveland and then again when Windhorst made the move to ESPN.

Along with that work, he has authored or co-authored four books about LeBron James.

“I was really lucky to meet LeBron James when he was 14 years old,” Windhorst said. “That helped a lot.”

It isn’t all about luck when it comes to Windhorst becoming one of the most well-known NBA media members, however.

Just like the athletes he covers, a lot of the work put in by writers can go unnoticed. But every job is important, and the work has to be put in if one wants to succeed.

“The most menial jobs or the most mundane things, I think if you put in the work, it pays off,” Windhorst said. “I have been very fortunate, but I have also put in a lot of work, a lot of work that people wouldn’t know about, or people wouldn’t see.”

Some of that work also includes making sure he was aware of anything that might have been happening in the NBA on Saturday while he was at his alma mater being honored at halftime of the boys basketball game between STVM and Centerville

Windhorst sat in the stands for the game, but he was never too far from the news outside the arena.

“I was checking my phone and I was aware of what’s going on,” Windhorst said. “That’s the thing is that we are always connected, and basketball never stops.”

But Windhorst is thankful fans have such a thirst for information and feels lucky to do something he loves.

“People care, and that’s what has enabled us to have such good lives,” Windhorst said. “Because those of us who work in and around the NBA, we have wonderful lives, and we are always appreciative that people care.”

And on Saturday afternoon, the STVM community showed their appreciation for Windhorst’s hard work and accomplishments by making him a Hall of Famer.

Despite what he may think, it was an honor well deserved.