LeBron James
LeBron James

LeBron James: From Hardships to NBA’s First Active Billionaire and Champion Activist

Blessed with unparalleled skills, a tireless perfectionist, an influential activist: LeBron James rose from a tough childhood to the top of the NBA scoring charts in a unique journey that he wants to extend until he is crowned the greatest player of all time.

During his twenty-year career, ‘King (King) James’ has been a devastating force on the NBA courts, insatiably hoarding titles, awards and statistics.

With the 36 points he scored on Tuesday in the third quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the forward surpassed the 38,387-point scoring record of the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

At 38, LeBron is sporting the third-highest scoring average of his career this season (30.0 points), reflecting the extraordinary longevity with which he has exploited the immense potential he already showed in high school, when he was dubbed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated.

Straight to the NBA without a college stop, the forward boasts four championships, four season MVP awards and four Finals MVP awards, 19 All-Star selections and two Olympic gold medals.

But before basking in glory there were many hardships for LeBron Raymone James, born on December 30, 1984 to a teenage, single mother, Gloria, and an absentee father with a criminal record.

“I came from the inner city, I saw drugs, guns, murders,” James explained of his childhood in Akron, Ohio, where he and Gloria even changed homes as many as seven times in a single year.

LeBron James: From a Hardship-Filled Childhood to the NBA’s First Active Billionaire and a Potential Greatest Player of All Time

James’ destiny changed when he was discovered by Frank Walker, a youth football coach, who steered him toward basketball and convinced his mother to move in with the Walker family for a while.

At just 12 years old, LeBron was already attracting the attention of high school scouts who were impressed by his physical power and intelligence on the court.

He chose St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, a predominantly white school, over John Buchtel High School, where a cheerleader, Savannah Brinson, who would become his wife and mother of his three children, was a student.

The choice kept James close to friends like Maverick Carter, his current partner in ventures ranging from film to sports team ownership that, added to James’ salary and sponsorship income, made him the NBA’s first active billionaire.

Upon entering the NBA in 2003, he was the youngest number one draft pick in history. His first destination was the Cleveland Cavaliers, 30 miles away from Akron, and in his debut season he was already the team’s best in scoring, steals and minutes played.

However, his first two appearances in the Finals resulted in major disappointments. The first was in 2007 with the modest Cavaliers and the second in 2011 with the luxurious Miami Heat, the franchise he had chosen to found a dynasty with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

In Miami he would go on to lift his first two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013 but after his fourth and final straight Finals appearance, which ended in a painful loss to the Spurs, he decided to take on a bigger and more personal challenge.

LeBron returned to the Cavaliers and led them to four more consecutive Finals, all against the Golden State Warriors. In three of them they were defeated but in 2016 they achieved a triumph never seen before in the NBA, coming back from 1-3 down in the series.

James thus delivered the city its first NBA title and the first in all professional sports since 1964.

The stratospheric block he placed on Andre Iguodala in Game 7 remains an iconic image of his career. “I thought he was the greatest player people had ever seen,” James would later confess, reigniting the debate over whether he or Michael Jordan deserves that status.

LeBron James: A Champion On and Off the Court – Balancing NBA Success with Social Activism and Fatherhood

Off the court, James also stars as a social actor in his country, following in the footsteps of other legends such as Bill Russell or Abdul-Jabbar himself.

Very active on social networks (he has 144 million followers on Instagram), the small forward has denounced racial injustices, supported the “Black Lives Matter” movement and criticized Donald Trump as president, ignoring those who claim in a bad way that he should stick only to his work.

He also founded a school in Akron, funded aid programs and in 2020 created an association to facilitate voting for humble sectors of the African-American community.

That same year, James won his fourth NBA championship with the Lakers. It was proof that his 2018 move to Los Angeles was not an early retirement, even if Hollywood offered him the starring role in “Space Jam 2,” 25 years after Jordan brought the original to life.

Jordan, and his full complement of six Finals wins in a row, remains the great inspiration for LeBron, who is pursuing another unique dream: playing with his son Bronny.

“As long as I’m on the court, I’m going to try to be the greatest player of all time,” he warned. “And also the best man and the best father. All on the same path.”

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.