James Blake On New York Then, And New York Now

James Blake is already a staple figure in our cultural lexicon. He’s the man who bested Rafeal Nadal, the man who lost at the hands of Andre Agassi in one of the most thrilling tennis matches to of our time, and the man who, most recently, was the subject of much media attention after he was assaulted by a New York City police officer. Now, as Blake prepares to run the New York City Marathon on November 1, he’s keeping a running scroll of his New York: the city of his past, the city in the present, and the one waiting for him long after he’s finished clocking 26.2 miles on its streets.

His stunning essay, which first appeared on Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune, puts narrative perfection to a deeply person matter: Blake’s thrilling, tumultuous love affair with the City That Never Sleeps, the one that everyone who lives here understands, and the ever-disappointing issue America has with racism, intolerance, and turning a blind eye. Blake’s platform, both as a stellar athlete and on The Players’ Tribune, gives his voice, and his story, power. It adds weight. And as he runs from borough to borough on November 1, each step will propel him, and hopefully New York, forward.

Though dismaying, Blake’s NYPD assault wasn’t enough to sway his love for New York. It’s never enough to sway any New Yorker’s. Instead, he offers a promise: “One bad incident doesn’t spoil the city for me. I’ve had so many special memories in New York. I love New York. And when you love something, you don’t let it go. You make it better.”

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