By Andy Slater
It's August 2nd, a Saturday morning in Toronto, and there's a crowd of about 200 young girls outside a hotel.
Inside the hotel is “One Direction,” arguably the most world’s most popular boy-band, and basketball superstar LeBron James, arguably the world’s most popular athlete.
You can probably guess who Raymond Ahmad, an 18-year-old college student at the University of Toronto, is waiting to see.
"He came to Toronto last year on this same weekend,” Ahmad said. “ I anticipated him coming this year again, so I pre-planned to go to where he was going to stay to meet him."
Ahmad even recruited his friend, Hartley Mocanu, to join him.
"This year I decided, ‘Let's get to downtown Toronto at 8 a.m., sit on a bench, wait, and see if we can spot him,’ " Ahmad said. "He knew I've always been a fan of LeBron since Day One and he wanted to come with me."
Ahmad is a self-proclaimed member of "Team LeBron."
And if you don't already believe Ahmad's an extreme fan, his dedication to James should seal the deal.
"The LeBron limited edition Sprite, you can't get that stuff in Canada," Ahmad said.
So, one day Ahmad got into a car with his father to make a 14-hour drive to Georgia to pick up seven 12-packs.
"I still have about 40 cans sitting in my room right now," he said proudly.
After making an extremely long trip in a vehicle for soda, waiting on a bench outside a hotel in downtown Toronto for a chance to meet LeBron James seems easy.
It's now two hours before noon and Ahmad is sitting on that same bench, eating a bagel, and while holding the 'Chosen One' magazine in his hand. He believes he has the perfect location to nab James’ autograph and a photo.
"He was spotted at this patio outside the hotel last year, so let's see if he comes out here again," Ahmad thought.
As time passes, there's no LeBron James in sight.
Let's remember, though. Ahmad went almost 30 hours in a car to grab 84 cans of LeBron limited edition Sprite. He's not leaving this bench in downtown Toronto anytime soon.
As 2 p.m. approaches there's finally some movement in the patio area.
Ahmad said there was "a big dude who was wearing a 'Witness' shirt and a 'Witness' jacket." Ahmad knows he’s in the right place, and these are LeBron’s people.
Moments later, Ahmad's plan has a chance to be completed. He sees LeBron.
"He was incredibly smaller than what I thought he was,” Ahmad said.
He takes his shot, yelling, “You're the greatest! You're the greatest!”
And just as he is about to ask for a picture with his favorite basketball player, the 200 girls outside the hotel waiting for a glimpse of 'One Direction' sprang into action, rushing James.
"In a matter of 10 seconds LeBron and his company left the patio table and went inside the restaurant," Ahmad said.
At least Ahmad now had confirmation that LeBron is indeed at the hotel. There's no way he's leaving now.
It becomes a waiting game.
"I waited outside for five hours,” Ahmad said. “I could see inside the restaurant the entire time. LeBron was there at the table having some sort of meeting. Norris Cole and Eric Bledsoe sat down with him as well."
“After waiting for a few hours I tried to go inside. They asked me if I had a reservation, I told them I didn't so they kicked me out."
Almost 11 hours after Ahmad's arrival in downtown Toronto to try and meet his favorite basketball player, he notices LeBron leave the table and head out a side door.
"He went to a mani-pedicure store and his bodyguard was standing outside the front entrance," he said. "His bodyguard told me LeBron won't sign anything."
That didn’t deter Ahmad. He waited outside the store for more than an hour.
It's now 8 p.m. -- yes, we're on Hour 12 of the LeBron Watch -- but it’s still two hours short of the car ride to Georgia for the Sprite cans.
The now pampered and thinner LeBron James exits to a fan on the sidewalk who has put in more than a day's work. Will Ahmad get the picture? Will he get the autograph?
"LeBron noticed me,” Ahmad said. “He knows I was there supporting him, but he didn't acknowledge me.
"I understand he's busy and understand who he is. I tried to go up to him but his bodyguard pushed me away."
As LeBron crossed the street to head back to the hotel, Ahmad said there was a younger kid who wanted to say hello to the basketball star.
"LeBron kinda pushed him off because I think he was getting into him a little bit too much," he said.
"He kept walking and walking, then I told him we've been here since 8 a.m. and we'd like a picture with him," said Ahmad.
Ahmad finally got to eat more than the bagel he picked up that morning, he went home for dinner. With no autograph from LeBron and no picture with him, Ahmad looked over all of his other memorabilia from the star, including the 40 remaining Sprite cans.
"Hey, at least Norris Cole was really cool,” Ahmad said. “We spoke and he signed my hat.”
If you're in Toronto the first weekend in August next year, it may not be easy to personally catch up with LeBron.
However, you definitely know where you'll be able to meet Raymond Ahmad.
Photo Credit: Hartley Mocanu
Catch Andy Slater every weekday afternoon on 940 WINZ.
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As a young man, Andy Slater spent 4 years working in the Florida Marlins visitors' clubhouse. This gave Andy the chance to understand the interplay of Major League Baseball, meet players, and build relationships. Andy also worked within the National Football League. At an early age, Slater went where the rest of media could not go, deep inside!
Slater started his broadcasting career at Miami Killian Senior High, where he was Sports Director for his junior and senior year, and at Franklin Pierce College, New Hampshire. Slater was awarded "Sports Show of the Year" while attending Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL.
In 2008, he launched The Andy Slater Show, right here in his hometown and now on 940 WINZ.