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Issue Date: May 2005 Issue


Six Degrees of Usher

How did R&B superstar Usher end up with a share of the Cleveland Cavaliers? See if yuou can map his pre-Cavs connections to our city in fewer moves than we did.
Jim Vickers
vickers@clevelandmagazine.com

Whether he's flashing his "Double C" hand signal courtside or having dinner with team owner Dan Gilbert prior to tipoff, R&B superstar Usher isn't shy about showing his face around his new second home.

Still, when Gilbert announced in March that Usher would hold an ownership stake in his team, we couldn't help but wonder why the Atlanta native ended up sinking his money here.

Yeah, we know it probably has a lot to do with a certain 20-year-old who also only needs to go by one name. But the more we delved into Usher's background in true six-degrees-of-separation style, the more we found he's always been just a few steps away.

— Jim Vickers

Connection: Usher · Ashanti · LeBron James · Cleveland

Synopsis: Both Usher and Ashanti remade hits from Disney's catalog of movie songs for a 2002 album titled "Disneymania." Eight months later, Ashanti and LeBron James presented an award together at the MTV Video Music Awards just before the start of his rookie season with the Cavaliers.

Connection: Usher · TLC · Andre Rison · The Browns · Cleveland

Synopsis: Usher was romantically linked to Chilli, a member of '90s pop group TLC. The pair parted in 2004 after three years together, but it wasn't the all-girl trio's first high-profile relationship drama. In 1994, TLC's Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez torched the home she shared with then-Atlanta Falcon Andre Rison. Rison played for the Browns during the 1995 NFL season.

Connection: Usher · "Vote or Die" · P. Diddy · Case · Cleveland

Synopsis: Usher lent his image to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizen Change last October. Along with music mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Yoko Ono and others, Usher appeared in a traveling photography exhibit of celebrities wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Vote or Die." Last October, Combs took Citizen Change's "Vote or Die" message on the road, appearing at Case Western Reserve University with rap artist Mary J. Blige and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

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