LeBron James: Heart of a Champion

Rafael Magana, Staff Writer

LeBron James is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Whether it’s disproving his haters with his on-court ability or triumphing over hardships in his youth, James has had the heart of a champion within him all his life.

Born in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James was raised solely by his mother Gloria Marie James, who supported him in his youth. James spent most of his childhood moving around from apartment to apartment, never really having a stable home. Gloria often struggled to find a stable job to support the two of them.

James’ father, Anthony McClelland, was not around during his youth. This is unfortunately what led to the pair moving around frequently.

James was about nine years old when his mother decided it would be for the best to send him off to live with local youth football coach Frank Walker, who offered to take James in and give him a more stable home life while Gloria got back on her feet.

This would prove to be the catalyst that would send him on his path to becoming one of the greatest NBA players of all time.

In the Walker household, James was able to prosper and found a father figure in Frank, who was the one who introduced him to basketball. In this environment he was also able to focus on school as well. James finally had a stable home to live in, and his mother would still be able to visit him on weekends.

In the coming years, James would continue to hone his understanding of the game, coming to lead his team, the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars, when he played in the Amateur Athletic Union. From here, James attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School as he and his friends were scouted for their talent.

His decision to play for St. Vincent-St. Mary High was not without controversy however. Many questioned his decision, as the school was a white private school. He opted for the school instead of his local public school.

Regardless, during his time playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High, he caught the attention of many when he was featured in Slam Magazine, where he was named as one of “the best high school basketball player in America right now”. James was getting a ton of media attention during his junior year, even being the cover athlete on Sports Illustrated at one point.

His exceptional talent during his senior year led him to becoming the #1 pick during the 2003 NBA Draft, where he was drafted to the Cleveland Cavaliers, his home team.

James spent the next 7 years on the Cavaliers, even winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award in his first season with them.

In 2010, in a highly controversial decision, he became a free agent and decided to sign with the Miami Heat, where he eventually won two consecutive championships for them, in 2012 and 2013.

One of his crowning achievements is ending the infamous Cleveland Curse, by returning to Cavaliers in 2014 and eventually winning them their first championship in 2015, ending a 52 year drought.

Most recently, James led the Los Angeles Lakers to their 17th Championship, and by doing so, became the first NBA player to win Finals MVP with three different franchises (Cavaliers, Heat, and Lakers).

LeBron James has continued to prove that he is one of the greatest players to ever step on the court. Rising above his troubling childhood, he paved his own path.

Following his win in the 2020 finals, James said that “he wants his damn respect.” Many have doubted his accolades for varying reasons, but following his show of dominance during the 2020 finals, it’s safe to say that he’s earned it.