born December 30, 1984, nicknamed "King James", is an American professional basketball player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Standing at 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) and weighing in at 250 lbs (113 kg), he has played the small forward and power forward positions for Miami, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers. James has been a two-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a four-time NBA MVP, an NBA scoring champion, the NBA Rookie of the Year, and an Olympic gold medalist. He has also been selected to nine NBA All-Star teams, nine All-NBA teams, and five All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer.
James played high school basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. After graduating, he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers. James led Cleveland to the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance in 2007, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in a sweep. In 2010, he left the Cavaliers for the Heat in a highly publicized free agency period. In his first season in Miami, the Heat reached the Finals, but lost to the Dallas Mavericks. James won his first championship in 2012 when Miami defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, earning the NBA Finals MVP Award for his play. In 2013, the Heat won their second consecutive title and he repeated as Finals MVP. His career achievements and leadership role during the Heat's 2012 and 2013 championship runs have led many basketball analysts, experts, and writers to consider him the best player in the NBA today.
Off the court, James has accumulated considerable wealth and fame as a result of numerous endorsement contracts. His public life has been the subject of much scrutiny, and he has been ranked as one of America's most disliked and influential athletes. He has also been featured in books, documentaries, and television commercials, and has hosted the ESPY Awards and Saturday Night Live.
Childhood and youthJames was born on December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio to a 16-year-old mother, Gloria Marie James, who raised LeBron on her own. Growing up, life was often a struggle for LeBron and Gloria, who moved from apartment to apartment in the seedier neighborhoods of Akron while Gloria struggled to find steady work. Realizing he would be better off with a more stable family environment, Gloria allowed LeBron to move in with the family of Frank Walker, a local youth football coach, who introduced LeBron to basketball when LeBron was nine-years-old.
As a youth, James played Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball for the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars. The team enjoyed success on a local and national level, led by James and his friends Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, and Willie McGee. Inseparable, they dubbed themselves the "Fab Four" and promised each other they would attend high school together. In a move that stirred local controversy, they chose to attend St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, a largely white private school, instead of their local public school.
High school career
BasketballIn his freshman year, James averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds per game for St. Vincent-St. Mary's varsity team. The Fighting Irish finished the year 27–0, winning the Division state title. In his sophomore year, James averaged 25.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while also contributing 5.8 assists and 3.8 steals per game. For some home games during the season, St. Vincent-St. Mary played at the University of Akron's 5,492-seat capacity Rhodes Arena to satisfy ticket demand from alumni, local fans, and college and NBA scouts who wanted to see James play. The Fighting Irish finished the season 26–1 and repeated as state champions. For his outstanding play, James was named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and was selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team, becoming the first ever sophomore to do either.
Prior to the start of James' junior year, he appeared in SLAM Magazine and was lauded as possibly "the best high school basketball player in America right now" by writer Ryan Jones. During the season, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, becoming the first ever underclass high school basketball player to do so. With averages of 29 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game he was again named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team, and became the first ever junior to win the boys' basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. St. Vincent-St. Mary finished the year with a 23–4 record, ending their season with a loss in the Division II championship game. Following the loss, James seriously considered declaring for the 2002 NBA Draft, unsuccessfully petitioning for an adjustment to the NBA's draft eligibility rules which required prospective players to have at least graduated from high school. During this time, James used marijuana to help cope with stress resulting from the constant media attention he was receiving.
In his senior year, James and the Fighting Irish traveled around the country to play a number of nationally ranked teams, including a game against Oak Hill Academy that was nationally televised on ESPN2. Time Warner Cable, looking to capitalize on James' popularity, offered St. Vincent-St. Mary's games to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis throughout the season. For the year, James averaged 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 3.4 steals per game, was named Ohio's Mr. Basketball and USA Today All-USA First Team for an unprecedented third consecutive year, and Gatorade National Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. He participated in three year-end high school basketball all-star games—the EA Sports Roundball Classic, the Jordan Capital Classic, and the 2003 McDonald's All-American Game—, losing his NCAA eligibility and making it official he would enter the 2003 NBA Draft. According to Ryan Jones, James left high school as "the most hyped basketball player ever".
During his senior year, James was the centerpiece of several controversies. For his 18th birthday, he accepted a Hummer H2 from his mother, who secured a loan for the vehicle utilizing LeBron's future earning power as a professional athlete. This prompted an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) as their guidelines state that no amateur may accept any gift valued over $100 as a reward for athletic performance. Later in the season, James accepted two throwback jerseys worth $845 from an urban clothing store in exchange for his posing for pictures, officially violating OHSAA rules and resulting in him being stripped of his high school sports eligibility. James appealed the ruling and his penalty was eventually dropped to a two game suspension, allowing him to play the remainder of the season. The Irish were also forced to forfeit one of their wins, their only official loss that season.