Super star LeBron James
(The Caviliers Superstar Talent)
Cavaliers Superstar Lebron james
LeBron James was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio, son of Gloria James and Anthony McClelland. Gloria James gave birth to James when she was just 16 years old, and James never knew his biological father. His mother quickly became his biggest fan. "My mother is my everything. Always has been. Always will be," James told Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated. James's devotion was shown to the world with a large tattoo on his arm that read "Gloria."
By all accounts, James did not have an easy upbringing. His mother switched jobs and houses often. By the time James was five years old, they had moved seven times. Due to the unstable environment, he missed large stretches of elementary school and spent two years living with a foster family. The most stable male influence in the athlete's life as a child was his mother's boyfriend, Eddie Jackson, who James sometimes referred to as his father. However, Jackson did not always set a good example: in 2002 he was sentenced to three years in prison for mail and mortgage fraud.
Toward the end of elementary school, James found a true stabilizing influence in his life: basketball. He and his mother lived with basketball coach Frankie Walker for several years. By the time he was in eighth grade, his Amateur Athletic Union team went to the finals of the national tournament, and scouts began to notice that the young player from Akron had real talent. That talent brought James to the attention of coaches at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, a private Catholic school, and James began attending the school in ninth grade. It was his time at St. Vincent-St. Mary that launched him on the road to stardom.
LeBron the rising basketball Star
James made an instant impact as a high school player. During his freshman year, he led the St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish to a 27-0 record and the Ohio state basketball championship. James averaged eighteen points a game. Things only improved in the years that followed. In his sophomore year (2000 to 2001), the Fighting Irish finished with a 26-1 record and took their second state championship in a row. James averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 3.8 steals per game. The next year, the team finished second in the state, but James's statistics improved to 29.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game. By the middle of his junior year, people began to speak of the prospect of James turning pro before he even finished high school. His team began to play its games on college campuses to accommodate the overflow crowds coming to see the rising star. At seventeen years old, James was quickly becoming a national celebrity.
Despite the hype that built up around James in his high school years, his mother and his advisors at school helped him stay grounded. "St. V's has been very good for him," Gloria James told USA Today. "There's no messing around there, they're on the books and [the students] have to get good grades." She continued: "He goes to movies, loves PlayStation, and gets good grades. He knows school work comes first: No work, no basketball." James was no one-sport wonder; he also played football for the Fighting Irish, earning all-state honors as a sophomore and helping his team make it to the state championship semifinals in his junior year. He was also, by his own accounts, a world-class consumer of Fruity Pebbles cereal. When he was turning pro and being offered endorsement deals, he joked to Sports Illustrated that Fruity Pebbles is "the endorsement I really want. Somebody gave me ten boxes of it for [high school] graduation. Best present I got."
By his senior year, however, the hype was inescapable. National sports networks ESPN and ESPN2 began to provide coverage of games in which James played, and every Fighting Irish game was a sellout. The pressures of competing at this level led James and his family to make some questionable decisions. When James turned eighteen during his senior year, his mother borrowed $80,000 to buy him a Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle, leading many to believe that he was receiving money improperly. That same year, Gloria James and Eddie Jackson borrowed more than $100,000 to help finance travel for Jackson to negotiate shoe contracts for James; they were later sued by the businessman who loaned them the money. Ironically, the biggest trouble came when James accepted two vintage sports jerseys--valued at $845--from a Cleveland-area sports store. James was ruled ineligible for future play because the state forbids players from accepting compensation for performance. James immediately returned the jerseys, and he missed one game, but his eligibility was reinstated on appeal.Despite the controversy surrounding his final season, James made it his best year, averaging 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 3.4 steals per game. He led his team to its third state championship in four years, and USA Today crowned the team the high school national champions. Following that spectacular season, James made the rounds of the postseason all-star games, and he earned Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards at the McDonald's High School All-American Game, the EA Sports Roundball Classic, and the Jordan Capital Classic. He was named the player of the year by several national organizations, and the Sporting News later called him "the nation's most-watched high school athlete ever." When he declared his eligibility for the NBA draft in the spring of 2003, observers knew that whichever team selected him would be getting someone special
LeBron going pro after High School
The Cleveland Cavaliers "earned" the right to select first in the 2003 NBA draft after winning just seventeen games in the 2002 to 2003 season, and they did not hesitate in selecting James. Pressure built in the off-season, as observers wondered how Coach Paul Silas and the rest of the Cavaliers team would handle the presence of the heralded rookie. From the very beginning, James's play was solid. He scored twenty-five points in his debut, and on March 27, 2004, he became the youngest player in NBA history to score more than forty points in a game when he lit up New Jersey for forty-one points. By season's end, he averaged 20.9 points per game while playing forward and sometimes guard
Fans, coaches, players, and sportswriters loaded James with accolades for his rookie performance. Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle told the Sporting News, "Some of the things he is doing out there are just breathtaking. He makes plays we have not seen anybody make since Jordan in terms of pure strength and athletic ability and hanging and seeing things and finishing." Numbers produced by the Cavaliers bear out this observation. Strength and conditioning coach Stan Kellers told Sports Illustrated that the team tests players on vertical jump, strength, agility, body fat, and speed, and rates them on a scale of one to five. But, says Kellers, "LeBron's a six." Teammate Carlos Boozer lauded James for unselfish play, noting that James often gives up a basket to feed the ball to his teammates. "When he gets the ball," Boozer told the Sporting News, "you better have your hands up and ready and make yourself available because he is going to find you." Such praise helped earn James the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the Got Milk? Rookie of the Year for the 2003 to 2004 season.
Some were more cautious in their estimation of the rookie sensation. Michael Jordan told Ebony that James has "unbelievable potential, but he hasn't played against the competition consistently in college or the pros.... Five years from now ... he can definitely be a good pro." James himself seemed to recognize that he had to pay his dues before he could rise to the top ranks of the NBA. "I don't want to be a cocky rookie coming in trying to lead right off the bat," James told Sports Illustrated. "I'm going to lead more by example.... If there's one message I want to get to my teammates it's that I'll be there for them, do whatever they think I need to do."