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Woman posts positive signs outside LeBron James’ Ohio home

A Copley Township, Ohio, middle school teacher reacted with positivity days after Cleveland Cavaliers player LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized with racist graffiti.

ESPN reported that Jennifer Pennington placed numerous signs with positive words on them outside James’ home in Bath Township, Ohio.

>> Read more trending news

Words such as “hero,” “leader,” “humanitarian,” “role model,” “mentor” and “good Samaritan” were written on each big white placard.

Pennington told ESPN on Sunday that she placed the signs about 10 yards apart on the 32-year-old basketball players’ property in response to the N-word written on the gate to his Los Angeles home.

Related: LeBron James responds to hate crime at his LA home

“My heart broke when I saw the N-word posted on (his gate in Los Angeles) because that shouldn't be a word to describe anybody,” Pennington said.

Pennington told ESPN she posted about the idea on Facebook and decided to act on it once friends encouraged her. The English and language arts teacher at Akron Public Schools then traveled 15 minutes from her home to James’ neighborhood, where she spoke to a security guard on the property and told him what she was doing. She posted the signs on Thursday -- the same day James’ LA home was vandalized.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“I said, ‘Hey, we’d like to put some signs up, but only if it's OK with the family,” Pennington told ESPN. “He said, ‘We’re not going to do any of that (here in the driveway), but you can put them across the street.’ So I said, ‘OK, sure.’ And then he was really cute. He said, ‘Well, actually, I probably should look and see what these signs say before I give the OK.’ So he looked at them and said, ‘Nobody should have a problem with those.’”

James has not publicly responded to Pennington’s signs , but he responded the vandalism at a news conference before Game 1 of the NBA finals.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is -- it's tough,” he said. “We've got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”

Pennington, currently on maternity leave since giving birth to 3-1/2-month-old daughter Cecilia, told ESPN that James “is an inspiration to people,” and that she’d be happy if her daughter had the same qualities as the NBA star. She commended James for his work with Akron Public Schools

“I get to see firsthand the wonderful things that he’s doing for this community,”she said.

“Nobody in this world is perfect, but he is doing remarkable things. He is amazing,” Pennington said. “As someone who has the resources that he has, he holds his head up high. As a young kid, we watched him grow up, and the spotlight hit him and he handled himself with grace.”

Cardiac Hill Poll of the Day: Current Recruiting Vibe

Pitt football's recruiting got off to an incredibly slow start this year. That always seems to be the case with Pat Narduzzi classes, but with only three recruits in late May, there was some very real concern among fans.

The Panthers have been on a roll in the past week, however. On May 30, they landed offensive lineman Jake Kradel, a three-star recruit with offers from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and others. On Friday, they picked up Wendell Davis and Judson Tallandier, two more guys with several P5 offers, albeit, not as impressive as Kradel's. Then on Sunday, they added John Morgan, a defensive end with several offers, including one from Penn State.

None of the guys Pitt landed were four-star or five-star guys according to Rivals, but they were solid gets and desired by some quality programs. Pitt nearly doubled its recruiting total in the past week and now has seven players committed. That still puts them behind the top programs in Rivals' team rankings in terms of volume, but they've now moved up into the Top 40. Work to do, but movement.

Based on the recent additions this week, how do you feel about Pitt's class as opposed to a week ago?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlogfor our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.
Poll With the recent commits, how much better do you feel about the 2018 football recruiting class? Much better A little better Wasn't concerned before, not concerned now Worse - Pitt needs better talent   6 votes | Results

Phil Mickelson to skip U.S. Open for daughter’s graduation

Family is more important than golf. That’s the message that Phil Mickelson seems to be sending.

The pro golfer withdrew from the United States Open so he could attend his daughter’s high school graduation, The New York Times reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Commencement is scheduled for June 15, the same day that the Open’s first round. Graduation will be held at Pacific Ridge School in California. The Open is being held at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

“So there’s just really no way to make it, no matter what the tee time is,” Mickelson said.

His daughter Amanda will attend Brown University and major in Egyptology.

The Open is the only major Mickelson has not won, The Times reported.

Pat Signal: John Morgan commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a three-star defensive end

PITT IS IT!! #L1TS8URGH #H2P #12— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) June 4, 2017

It’s June, so that means recruits. Pitt landed their third commitment of the weekend as John Morgan made the call today while visiting Pitt for a prospect camp. Morgan is a 6’3” 248 pound defensive end. He is graded as a three-star by all four of the major recruiting outlets.

John Morgan plays for national power, DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland. ESPN calls Morgan the 11th best player from the state of Maryland, while Rivals calls him the 29th ranked weak side defensive end nationally. He is the teammate of recent Pitt commitment, Judson Tallandier. Morgan held offers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Maryland among others.

Morgan is now the 7th member of Pitt’s 2018 recruiting class. He is the fourth defensive player for this recruiting cycle, and the first defensive end. It figures to be a small class for Pat Narduzzi and his staff, as the majority of Pitt’s roster are underclassmen and they will only graduate 10 seniors.

Pitt’s class is rapidly filling up, and there still could be more commitments happening this month. Pitt figures prominently into the recruitment of many of the local WPIAL prospects, and the staff can deliver on some of those.

Troy Aikman gets engaged to girlfriend Capa Mooty on European vacation

On Friday, Hall of Fame quarterback and former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman proposed to his girlfriend, Capa Mooty — and she said yes.

>> Read more trending news

According to People magazine, Aikman announced the exciting news on Instagram, sharing a picture of the couple with the caption, “June 2, 2017 – A special day as I proposed to the love of my life.”

It looks like he popped the question during the couple’s trip to Italy, giving his proposal a perfectly romantic backdrop. They have reportedly been dating since February 2016, and Aikman regularly shares snaps of the pair.

Their wedding will mark Aikman’s second marriage. He and ex-wife Rhonda Worthey called things off in 2011 after 11 years together. He shares two daughters with Worthey, Jordan Ashley, 15, and Alexa Marie, 14. Mooty also has two children, both boys, from a previous relationship.

Read more here.

WATCH: Pujols hits 600th career home run – a grand slam

Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols has joined the 600 club. 

The 37-year-old hit his 600th home run – a grand slam – Saturday off Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana.

>> Watch the moment here

Only eight other players have crossed the 600 mark, including Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa, CBS Sports reports.

>> Read more trending news

Rodriguez congratulated Pujols in a tweet.

"Congrats @PujolsFive on No. 600," Rodriguez wrote. "You are a great ambassador to our game and all Dominicans #PlatanoPower." 

>> See the tweet here

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, also lauded Pujols.

>> See the tweet here

WATCH: Bat boy interferes with Mets infielder 

A bizarre play involving a bat boy and New York infielder Wilmer Flores on Thursday led to the ejection of Mets manager Terry Collins, ESPN reported. 

>> Read more trending news

The Milwaukee Brewers were leading 2-0 in the fourth inning and had loaded the bases with one out. Eric Sogard hit a pop fly near the Brewers’ dugout and Flores chased it near the railing at Citi Field. A bat boy carrying a metal stool tried to avoid the infielder but nicked his arm, and Flores was unable to make the catch. 

"Well I'm not really sure what the rules are on that play. All I can tell you is I had the ball. I don't know what happened after that, but I had the ball. I guess that wasn't [his] intention," Flores told ESPN.

Umpires originally called Sogard out for interference but quickly huddled and reversed their ruling. Collins bolted from the bench, argued with crew chief Fieldin Culbreth and was ejected.

"My issue was, it was a routine catch. It would be one thing if it was a difficult play; that was my argument," Collins told ESPN.

Pat Signal: Wendell Davis Jr. commits to Pitt

Pitt lands their second recruit of the day

PITT IS IT!! #L1TS8URGH #H2P #X2— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) June 2, 2017

Pat Narduzzi had Pitt Twitter buzzing today. He let out his second “Pat Signal” of the day. We soon found out that linebacker, Wendell Davis Jr. was Pitt’s newest commitment. He announced it via Twitter himself.

Excited to say that I'm committed to the University of Pittsburgh!! #L1TS8URGH #H2P pic.twitter.com/Y9oTY1rwEJ— Wendell Davis (@wendellwdj) June 2, 2017

Wendell Davis Jr. is a 6’2” 215 pound outside linebacker from Richmond, Virginia. He is graded as three-star prospect by Rivals, 24/7, and Scout. He chose Pitt over offers from Michigan State, West Virginia, and Duke among others. 247 Sports credits him with being the 7th best prospect in the state of Virginia.

Davis plays his high school football for Benedictine High School. He helped guide his team to a 7-3 record in 2016. Here is a better look at his play.

Wendell Davis is Pitt’s sixth recruit for the class of 2018. He is also the second commitment of the day, and the third of the week. The 2018 recruiting class is not expected to be a big one, but spots have been filling up quickly.

Pitt’s recruiting efforts usually explode in June, and it sure looks that way. Could more be coming? Pat Narduzzi certainly teased it earlier with another tweet.

Who is X3?? #L1TS8URGH— Pat Narduzzi (@CoachDuzzPittFB) June 2, 2017

Pat Signal: Judson Tallandier commits to Pitt

Pitt lands a three-star defensive back

A Big Dream Turning Into A Reality.. Largo, MD -> Pittsburgh, PA ! #L1TS8URGH #H2P pic.twitter.com/KL6rrbPeUS— Judson Tallandier Ⅱ (@iamjtii) June 2, 2017

Pitt received some good news this afternoon, as they received a commitment from three-star defensive back Judson Tallandier. He plays for national power, DeMatha Catholic in the Washington DC area. Tallandier chose Pitt over offers from Georgia, Arizona, and NC State among others.

Talliender checks in at 6’2” 180 pounds. He is listed as a cornerback by the all the recruiting websites, but he lists himself as a free safety as well on his Hudl page. Tallandier is graded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, Scout, and 24/7. Rivals considers him the 14th best prospect in the state of Maryland.

Tallandier becomes the fifth commitment for the 2018 recruiting class. He is also the first defensive back for this recruiting class for Pat Narduzzi. Here is a better look of the type of player Pitt is getting in Talandier.

Recruiting at a place like DeMatha Catholic is never easy, but it’s also a strong program to have ties to as well. Pitt is in pursuit of some of Tallandier’s teammates at DeMatha, and this is a strong step in perhaps landing a few more players from the powerhouse program.

It was just days ago that Tallandier pulled in an offer from SEC power Georgia, but his relationship with Pitt proved strong in this recruitment. It has probably been mentioned quite a bit already, but Pitt’s recruiting typically picks up in June, and it’s shaping up that way once again.

Kevin Durant downplays apparent ‘stare down’ with Rihanna 

Kevin Durant scored 38 points to lead Golden State to a 113-91 rout against Cleveland in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, but the postgame buzz was about his apparent stare down of musician Rihanna, ESPN reported. 

>> Read more trending news 

Late in the fourth quarter, Durant drained a 3-point shot from the right wing, then appeared to stare down Rihanna, who was sitting in a courtside seat. 

In the postgame media interview room, Durant was asked about that stare, but said he did not remember it.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who added 28 points and was sitting next to Durant in the interview room, turned to his teammate and said, “Don’t get into that trap, man.”

Durant then laughed and said, “Yeah, I won’t get into that. I’m cool. Have fun with that.”

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