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Obama lauds NBA stars as fathers, role models

President Obama gave a few players for the NBA champion Miami Heat a very public pat on the back for taking their roles as fathers seriously.

During a White House event Monday congratulating the Miami Heat on their winning year, Mr. Obama singled out LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as three men who are role models both on and off the court.

"There's a lot of focus on what happens on the court, but what's also important is what happens off the court," he said. "And I don't know all these guys, but I do know LeBron and Dwyane and Chris. And one of the things I'm proudest of is that they all take their roles as fathers seriously."

"For all the young men out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that's a good message to send."

Mr. Wade has written a book, "A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger than Basketball," which was released in September. The divorced Chicago native writes about his struggles growing up on the city's South Side and his commitment to raising his two sons after he was awarded joint custody in a bitter court battle with his ex-wife.

Calling Mr. Wade "the heart and soul of his team," the president also said he dressed well enough to land himself in GQ magazine.

"Show them your kicks here, Dwyane," he said as Mr. Wade, clad in a grey suit, mugged for the cameras. "If any of you can pull this off other than Dwyane Wade, let me know," he said.

After the remarks were over, Mr. Obama shook hands and greeted several members of the front row, including Mr. Wade's girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union.

The Miami Heat were heading to Walter Reed to visit with wounded warriors after the White House event.

"You are heroes to them, but they are heroes to everyone," Mr. Obama said.

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