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Rock the Vote

Larry Nance Jr. Uses His Voice to Encourage Voting in His Home State
by Joe Gabriele Beat Writer

Rock the Vote

Larry Nance Jr. Uses His Voice to Encourage Voting in His Home State

Making any kind of political stance can be a dangerous venture for a pro athlete or entertainer – especially in the hyper-partisan world we currently live in, and with just over a month remaining before the presidential election.

For starters, you’re likely to alienate roughly 50 percent of your fan base – those fans probably telling said athlete or entertainer to stick to their jobs and stay out of politics, like they do.

If there’s one player on the Cavaliers who seems most comfortable in his own skin, it’s Larry Nance Jr. He’s accomplished, intelligent, thoughtful, funny and socially conscious. Next season, watch him pre- and postgame with the opponent. You’ll see that he’s also one of the most well-liked and respected young players in the Association.

For those who follow the Akron native on social media, two things have recently been apparent.

One, he’s about to cash in on another Browns victory against former teammate and Washington football team fan, Josh Hart – who was forced to wear a Browns onesie before a Lakers-Cavs matchup two seasons ago.

The other is that Nance’s cause célèbre over the past month or so has been passionately encouraging Americans to vote on November 3.

Normally, this would not be an even remotely controversial issue. But these aren’t normal times.

“Look, I can tweet about the new video game I’m liking and somebody’s gonna hate you for it,” said Nance, checking in from the Cavs mini-bubble over the weekend. “That’s kind of how social media is – it gives everybody a voice whether you deserve one or not.

Larry Nance Jr., doing work in the Cavs downtown bubble, is heading into his third full season with the Wine and Gold.
Courtney Payton/Cavaliers Photos

”My whole stance on Twitter has been: ‘Hey look, everybody should vote.’ I think all of us should! Somebody who’s 100 years old; somebody who’s 27 years old, like myself. And here’s where I could be wrong: I don’t think ANYBODY should take issue with it. It seems like a pretty good, fair message that all of us – all of us – the rich, the poor, the old, the young, every single person (should vote).”

All of the aforementioned qualities – plus his lifetime around the game and rapid improvement on the floor – has made Nance one of the squad’s young leaders. He doesn’t have the experience or hardware that Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson do, but he’s part of the team’s new generation that’s looking to make their own history in Cleveland.

When he talks, people listen.

”I know, especially in Cleveland, that I have a decent following of people mostly 30-years-old and younger – so that’s the crowd that I’m really trying to get to,” said Nance. “We didn’t vote in the last election; we haven’t been voting. And I say “we” because I just recently found out how important it was.

”That’s the age group I’m trying to get to, and I know it sounds corny, but hopefully they see me, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham – they see their sports teams, people they look up to (encouraging the vote) and see that it’s kind of cool."

Nance mentioned that the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns recently partnered up for a public service announcement encouraging the community to register and vote featuring himself, Koby Altman, J.B. Bickerstaff, Collin Sexton and Kevin Love along with Baker Mayfield, Tristan McKenzie, Shane Bieber, Terry Francona, Sandy Alomar Jr., Chris Antonetti and Carlos Carrasco.

And Nance’s place of employment, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse has also been at the forefront of facilitating the voting process for Northeast Ohioans, recently celebrating National Voter Registration Day at the arena.

"At the end of the day, change comes from voting – in presidential elections, in state elections, county elections. It goes through the voting booth in all shapes and sizes."

Anyone who knows about Nance’s work with his foundation, Athlete’s vs. Crohn’s – founded in 2017 to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis among adolescents – or has seen him personally engaging with these kids before a game realizes that he’s a man who takes his causes very seriously.

One battle that Nance currently waged was the fact that there’s a single early vote drop-box in each county in Ohio – including Summit County, where he was raised and currently resides. And it’s one that’s gotten him – on social media anyway – toe-to-toe with the Secretary of State, Frank LaRose.

”I’m trying to speak to getting more than one drop box in the County – that’s absurd," said Nance. “Just Denver has 79 drop-boxes; the whole state of Ohio has 88. That’s ridiculous. So, I’ve tried my best to use my platform to get ahold of Frank LaRose and our governor to see if they’ll change that, if they’re willing to change that. If not, I want to put pressure on them to do so.”

The Cavaliers were one of eight NBA teams excluded from the Bubble in Orlando and in some ways their voices lacked the amplifications of the players in Florida. But Nance thinks can still get his message across.

”The league we’re in is trying to promote social justice issues, everybody has their message on the back of their jerseys,” said Nance. “The guys in the bubble have gotten a chance to speak as to what they’re passionate about in terms of what they’d like to see done in the world.

”That’s what we talk about and we can make videos and hold press conferences and wear names on our jerseys until we’re blue in the face. At the end of the day, change comes from voting – in presidential elections, in state elections, county elections. It goes through the voting booth in all shapes and sizes.”

As homegrown a Cavalier as they come, the high-flying scion of a franchise legend knows that A. he’s living in a battleground state and, B. his demographic could hold the key to the direction of our nation. And that’s why he’s fighting this fight. “In this day and age,” Nance said. “We should be making voting easier for people – not harder.”

Nance will actually be voting for the first time in Ohio; he and Kevin Love recently made a trip to the BMV to get their Ohio driver’s licenses and register in the state.

With the first Presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday night in Cleveland and races across the country heating up in the homestretch, it’s likely Nance will only intensify his admirable crusade.

”I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and hopefully there’s some change made. If one extra person registers to vote, that’s great – but hopefully there’s more than that.”

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