It was a year that saw a championship parade in Cleveland and came to a close with a somber funeral procession in Ohio’s capital for one of the state’s most beloved figures.
LeBron James and John Glenn came from much different backgrounds and grew up in far different eras yet both thrilled their home state with feats that will be remembered for generations.
The Cleveland Cavaliers victory in the NBA Finals, led by James, ended the city’s 52-year championship drought and was selected Ohio’s top story of the year by The Associated Press staff and its member newspapers and broadcasters around the state.
The other big stories in Ohio for 2016 included the death of Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth and Ohio’s longest-serving U.S. senator; the shooting of a gorilla to rescue a boy at the Cincinnati Zoo and the Cleveland Indians’ unlikely World Series against the Chicago Cubs.
The state’s top 10 stories from 2016:
Next year finally arrived in Cleveland. Five decades of gut-wrenching losses and sports futility came to an end when James rallied the Cavaliers from a 3-1 deficit to defeat favored Golden State for the city’s first title since 1964. Nearly 1 million people showed up for the parade, with some fans standing on rooftops and clinging to ledges of a parking garage. Suddenly, Cleveland was on a roll.
GODSPEED, JOHN GLENN
Astronaut, test pilot, combat veteran, senator. John Glenn took off from his eastern Ohio hometown of New Concord and became an American hero. Glenn’s death in early December at age 95 was felt by even those who weren’t born in 1962 when he orbited Earth. He inspired new generations with his trip in the shuttle Discovery in 1998 that made him the oldest person in space.
The killing of the Cincinnati Zoo’s 400-pound gorilla named Harambe to save a little boy who slipped into its enclosure in May triggered outrage, second-guessing and social media mockery. Critics pounced on both the boy’s mom and the zoo for shooting the animal after it pulled the child through a moat. Online tributes to Harambe turned into tongue-in-cheek tweets and punch lines.
IMPROBABLE WORLD SERIES
Two teams with a long history of heartbreak — the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs — matched up for a memorable World Series. The Indians got there despite losing two starting pitchers near the end of the season. An epic Game 7 ended in extra innings with the Cubs winning their first championship since 1908. Once again, there’s always next year.
POLICE OFFICER TRIAL
While the nation engaged in a debate over policing practices and killing by officers, jurors in Cincinnati couldn’t agree on a verdict in November in the trial of a white former University of Cincinnati police officer charged in the fatal traffic stop shooting of an unarmed black motorist. A retrial is scheduled for May.
Outbreaks of heroin overdoses overwhelmed police and hospitals in Ohio’s big and small cities throughout the year. The state’s health department reported that a record number of Ohioans died from drug overdoses.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s underdog bid for the Republican presidential nomination fell short after he won the state’s primary. While his exit from the race in May cleared the way for Donald Trump, Kasich refused to endorse his rival and remained a critic of Trump.
OHIO STATE ATTACK
Eleven people were hurt on Ohio State University’s campus when an 18-year-old Somali-born student drove his car into a crowd and then began stabbing people. A university police officer shot and killed the suspect who authorities said may have been inspired by the Islamic State group.
Less than a year after Ohio voters defeated an effort to legalize pot for both medical and recreational use, state lawmakers approved making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana. But Ohio’s medical marijuana program won’t be up and running until 2018.
The April slayings of eight members of an extended family in their homes in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio remains unsolved. Investigators believe those behind the killings were familiar with the victims, their homes and the surrounding area.
OTHER TOP STORIES
Other top stories in Ohio last year included: The fatal shooting of a 13-year-old black boy by a white Columbus police officer; Donald Trump becoming the Republican presidential nominee at the party’s convention in Cleveland; And, the city of Cleveland reaching a $6 million settlement in a lawsuit over the death of Tamir Rice.