Ray Towler was released this week after spending 29 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. DNA testing proved Towler's innocence.
In addition to approximately $1.4 million he's expected to get from the state, plus lost wages, for the wrongful imprisonment and butchered trial, Towler is raking in some deserved swag. He got some fine free pizza from Rascal House as his first meal, a LeBron jersey, and a surprise from the Cavs.
Upon his release, Towler was asked about feeling anger about his situation. His answer, naturally, focused on the Cavs' chance of winning the NBA championship.
"This is the greatest day of my life, and it's pure joy; I have no hate for anyone," said the 52-year-old Cleveland native in a phone interview yesterday. "I suppose hoping to see LeBron play in person is too much to ask, but at least I can watch the games from outside the barbed wire. I get to start a new life, and the Cavs are going to win the championship. It doesn't get much better than that."
Turns out the Cavs were paying attention, and, no, seeing LeBron in person wasn't too much to ask. They've provided free tickets for the next home playoff game against Boston.
He had told The Dispatch on Tuesday that it was probably too much to ask to see LeBron James in person at a Cavaliers' playoff game.
But it wasn't. Tad Carper, Cavs vice president of communication, said yesterday that he would invite Towler and three guests to sit courtside for next week's playoff game in Cleveland against the Boston Celtics.
Towler at first thought it was a joke. But as it sunk in, he beamed with more joy than when he learned he was being released. He said he would take his brother, brother-in-law and niece.
"Now, that is what I call a homecoming present," he said.
Reached for comment, Tad had this to say: "We were blown away by the story and his reaction and comments about his situation. We’re humbled and honored to do it. We just want to play a small role in him having a fun and special night as he starts the rest of his life. Much bigger than basketball. Helps put it in perspective for all of us."
Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.
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