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    ESPN - 07/19/2011

    If you’re an athlete, your skills, ambition and work ethic are supposed to determine your career path, rather than nepotism or insider connections. Which means you can come from anywhere and succeed. Clint Dempsey grew up in a trailer park in South Texas, playing soccer with migrant kids from across the Mexican border. LeBron James shuttled among apartments in the worst neighborhoods of Akron as a child, with a teen mother and no father. Starting at age 7, Michael Oher of The Blind Side fame bounced from foster home to foster home to the Memphis streets. Their rise from humble beginnings, along with the triumphant tales of many other athletes, are core chapters of the great sports mythology. It’s from competition, in fact, that we get the phrase “level playing field.”

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