No matter where his life has taken him, whether it was playing college basketball in Nebraska, professional basketball and now as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mexico, Missouri is always home to Tyronn Lue.
"Mexico is in me. It always has been. This is home and always will be home," he said Saturday after the unveiling of two signs honoring him. One sign will be placed at the entrance of Highway 54 and the other one at Business 54 East.
After Daniel Norman, president-elect Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce presented Lue his own sign, Lue took the podium thanking his family, friends and the community of Mexico for all the support given to him throughout the years. He also thanked the city of Mexico for keep giving him all the honors. "I'm not a big person who believes in being honored and being recognized, but this is something special," said Lue. "Hopefully the kids can understand to just keep striving and working toward their goal. I was in the same position 25-30 years ago and now to see where I'm at today come from all the help of you guys and the effort my family and friends have put into getting me to this point," said Coach Lue.
"We aren't done yet, there are a lot of things we need to do for these schools to continue to build the schools up, continue to help these kids learn and get to where they want to get to in life," Lue said.
Lue said he has talked to Rita Jackson, Gunther (Daniel) Nunnelly and Dana Keller a lot try to to figure out how to rebuild this community and get it back where it needs to be because this is a "special place."
Lue said they are open to the community's input and whatever they think needs to be done for the kids.
"It's not about the signs, it's not about the Boulevard, it's about helping these kids get to where they want to get to in life," Lue stated.
He also added it starts with the family and parenting. He said he had great family backing that got him where he is today.
"I'm very honored and happy, but we are not down yet and there are better days to come.
"We've got to continue to keep working. I promise you I am not done. We need to continue to help get everything we can for these kids, and continue to make Mexico o a great place to be."
Dan Erdel served as master of ceremonies. He told the crowd at Garfield Park it was much more than dedicating a flat piece of green painted metal to a great coach. "If that was the significance of this event it would be short lived. What we are doing here is much more than honoring a great basketball player. What we are doing here today is telling everyone who comes into our community or passes by our community on the highways is how much we appreciate T Lue as a symbol to all of us of what can be accomplished."
Mayor Chris Miller said it was a great day to celebrate Mexico's native son Tyronn Lue who has not forgotten where his home court is. He told about Lue giving back to the community and that people are unaware of all the things he does for Mexico. Miller said his wife has a plaque that says "Excellence is shown how we work when nobody notices." Miller stated this is what Lue does. "He is a great mentor for the kids" said the Mayor.
Miss Missouri Jennifer Davis, who feels like Mexico is her home, was the guest speaker. "I feel truly blessed and honored to be part of this community. This may not be my home court, but it is my home stage," she said. She said Mexico is a great community and she feels love and appreciated. She added that she hopes one day she can give back to Mexico like Lue, for all the support shown to her. "Thank you for supporting your hometown boy and me as well," she said.
Bright Futures has started a Tyronn Lue Student Champion National Award and the first recipient was Eugene Field Elementary School for its Popcorn Mania. Teacher Michelle Whanger and two students, Ryan Dingledine and Caitlyn Bates told about Popcorn Mania and showed the plaque they received for the award.
Dana Keller, executive director for the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, also had praise for Lue. "Coach Lue we are better because of you," she said. She told about the first Community Day of Service and how everyone came together to do service work. The second Community Day of Service will be in September. "We all have things to share to make Mexico better," she told the crowd.
Before the program, City Councilwoman Dr. Ayanna Shivers, sang the National Anthem, and the Missouri Military Academy cadets presented the colors. The program closed with Rev. Marrix, Seymour, pastor at St. Paul CME Church.
Following the program, Lue spent time visiting with friends, family, and having his picture taken with kids as well as adults.