We know LeBron James today as a few things. He’s the reliable, supremely experienced leader of the Los Angeles Lakers, who takes incredible care of his body and does not subscribe to the “load management” phenomenon like many other NBA All-Stars do. He’s the family man, who goes to his sons’ basketball games, and posts hilarious videos on social media of him and his family enjoying “Taco Tuesdays”. He’s the man who opened a public elementary school for at risk children from the first through the eighth grade.
But before he became the multi-dimensional person that he is today, LeBron James was just a kid growing up in Akron, Ohio, who had big dreams of one day starring on an NBA court. While attending St. Vincent St. Mary’s high school, James began to garner attention at a level that very few teenagers have ever received. He made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 17, and had some of his games broadcast nationally on ESPN, adjacent to other professional sporting events the network was airing.
Former Cleveland pitching ace C.C. Sabathia played in Ohio while James was making prodigious ascent through the high school ranks, and remembers the commotion around the teenager in the state. Sabathia’s trainer with Cleveland would rave about how good James was, and how the star pitcher should get a glimpse of the once in a lifetime talent.
“He’s playing across the street, like right here, we can just walk over there,” Cleveland trainer Paul Spicuzza told Sabathia. “So I walked over, went to see (James) play, and he was literally what he is now; a grown man,” Sabathia remembered. Via MLB.com
Many high school juniors and seniors dream of getting their driver’s license and speeding off in a used car their parents don’t want anymore, or a fixer upper that’s just doing enough to get from point A to point B. LeBron James wasn’t just any regular high school upper classman though, and was spotted driving a Hummer valued at around $80,000. As the story goes, his mom Gloria took out a large loan on behalf of her son in order to finance the car, anticipating that he would go straight to the NBA and be able to pay it back relatively soon.
James reminisced about his thoughts as an incoming freshman at the high school on “The Shop”, which was a show on HBO where the four time NBA champion discussed many topics in a more casual setting. Like many children and young teenagers, he was worried about being accepted for who he was in high school, and didn’t just want to be liked because of his supreme basketball talent.
“It took me a little while to kind of adjust to it. It’s hard to balance. I’m this kid that plays the game at such a high level. You’re in your mind like, ‘Are they happy that I’m here because of who I am or because of the conversation I can have with them?” Via WKYC.com
Even though the spotlight on James’ life was brighter than almost anyone his age, he was still able to mature into a fantastic basketball player and a respected person. While most of the credit should go to him, he couldn’t have done it alone. His friends Randy Mims, Rich Paul and Maverick Carter were there with him each step of the way, underscoring that a great support system is vital for any student or athlete.
“I always knew there was something special about Randy, Rich and Maverick and that, together, we were going to do something very different. I am so grateful and blessed that we found each other. And know my life would be very different without them,” James professed. Via The Undefeated