Every winner would be the teams running back.
Every time you watch LeBron James play, you are witnessing history. He is one of the greatest basketball players of this generation, and it is hard to imagine a league without him. But throughout his life, he has faced overwhelming adversity. Overcoming his rough upbringing, proving his critics wrong, and fulfilling his promise. LeBron James strives for greatness.The story starts on December 30th, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. LeBron’s mother, Gloria, was only 16, and not financially prepared to have a child. His father was an ex-convict; He wanted nothing to do with Gloria and LeBron.”She was my mother, my father, my everything. She put me first. I knew that no matter what happened, nothing and nobody was more important to her than I was.”Gloria worked anywhere and everywhere to make ends meet, and although she did her best to shield LeBron from poverty and violence, there was never any stability in their lives. They moved from places to place, a dozen times in three years. By the time LeBron was in the fourth grade, he spent nearly two-thirds of his life without a home. Constantly sleeping in a car with his mom, LeBron would be left to supervise himself. Most of the time, he chose not to go to school and lived on food stamps.One day, a man named Bruce Kelker was driving through the streets of Akron, scouting new players for his rec football team. He noticed a young LeBron playing tag with his friends. He asked them if they liked football.”That’s my favorite sport.”Kelker asked the kids to line up for a 100-yard race. The winner would be the teams running back. And the results? James won by over fifteen yards! While Kelker discussed practice locations and times, Gloria confessed that she could not afford any of the equipment, and had no way of getting LeBron to practice. Bruce told her not to worry, and that he would take care of everything. He even offered to pick him up for practices and games. Kelker recognized James’ insane talent at such a young age.After a few months of constantly picking up LeBron, Bruce was tired of finding out LeBron had moved once again, so he offered for them to live with him and his girlfriend. As time passed, it was obvious that LeBron was the best player on the field at all times. And it did not take long for others to notice Lebron’s talent either.When he was nine years old, he scored nineteen touchdowns in his first six games. Parents demanded to see James’ birth certificate because he was bigger, faster, and stronger than all of the other kids. When he found out about the other parents, James would duck his head and bend his knees, to appear shorter. Soon after, Kelker told him to “stand tall and proud.” This motivated LeBron.Eventually, Bruce’s girlfriend grew tired of having four people live in their apartment. James and Gloria were back to living on their own once again. A few months passed by, and LeBron had basically dropped out of fourth grade. He barely attended class anymore. “He’d often stay inside and eat from the same cereal box for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” (Jenkins).”I missed 82 days of school because I couldn’t get across town.”Kelker confronted Gloria and suggested that LeBron should move in with someone else. Gloria agreed and knew he needed a more stable environment. Bruce’s friend, Frankie Walker, offered to let LeBron move in with him, his wife, and his three kids. James shared a room with his son, Frankie Jr., who heavily influenced LeBron into playing basketball. Walker made him play one-on-one against Frankie Jr., and James lost 21-7. Even though he lost, Walker was determined to help James develop. Kelker would stop by the house from time to time, impressed by the constant improvement LeBron was showing.By the fifth grade, LeBron was a beast; nobody could stop him. LeBron and his friends were becoming very well known around Akron. They finally made the national scene when they qualified for the Sixth Grade and Under National AAU Championship. Two years later, they went to the finals of the Eighth Grade and Under National AAU Championship, but came up short, losing 68-66. The biggest story was LeBron’s amazing play. “I dreamed of being Batman, of making the NBA, of buying a house for my mom, of being the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The Fresh Prince of Akron.”After eight grade, LeBron and three of his teammates, and best friends, Sian, Dru, and Willie, decided to stick together and go to St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. In his freshman year, James was six foot three and led the team to a 27-0 record. His stats were insane, leading his team in rebounds, assists, and steals. But LeBron didn’t forget about football. He continued to play until his junior year. By the end of the season, he racked up more than 1000 yards, 52 receptions, and fifteen touchdowns. “James presents a unique challenge for opposing teams; his unmatched athleticism and well-muscled body would not have been out of place in the NFL” (Augustyn). Unfortunately, LeBron injured his index finger midway through the season and knew this would be his last year of football if he wanted to continue playing basketball.By now, everyone in the United States was talking about a phenom kid who could become “the next Michael Jordan.” He was so popular, that even Michael Jordan invited him to a workout with other NBA players. With so much hype around him, Nike and Adidas were battling to sign him. Offers were up to 25 million! He was only in high school, but he was just that talented. LeBron was virtually unstoppable. In his sophomore year, he won another state title, standing at six foot seven. His junior year, the team made its third state title. They lost, but that didn’t stop James from being named the best player in the country. In LeBron James’ senior year, he won his third state title in four years. He ended the season averaging over 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists a game. LeBron was at his peak, and just at the right time. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, titled “The Chosen One.” ESPN had all of his home games on Pay-Per-View, as he would draw in crowds of nearly fifteen thousand. Everyone knew his name.Rather than go to college, LeBron decided to enter the 2003 NBA Draft. His hometown of Cleveland was awarded the first overall pick, and drafted LeBron James number one, straight out of high school. This is not where the hardship ended. LeBron had a rough rookie season. Not statistically, but personally. Many of his teammates did not believe the hype and thought there were better players at his position on the team. During practice, his teammates would partner up and shoot free throws, and LeBron would shoot alone.Although his teammates refused to recognize his potential, the rest of the league just admired him. “James may be the best basketball player in the world right now; he’s definitely one of the most popular” (Spires). As years passed, James failed to bring a championship to Cleveland. Even though he dominated the NBA every season, the team was not ready to compete for a title. “He provides support and encouragement, but the greats push lesser teammates to higher places, without ever losing faith in them when they fall short” (Riley). In 2010, LeBron announced in a televised special, that he was going to sign with the Miami Heat. This event is known as “the decision,” and made James the villain of the NBA. He went on to win two championships with Miami and said some very inspiring words after. “I’m LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio. From the inner city. I’m not even supposed to be here. Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a number six with ‘James’ on the back. I’m blessed. So what everybody says about me off the court, doesn’t matter.” In 2014, LeBron James made his big return to Cleveland, promising he would bring a championship home. “In order to build a competitive team around James after he returned in 2014, the team’s front office traded young players and draft picks to get experienced veteran players” (Wilkes). That season, Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But LeBron was determined to keep his promise.With a little over a minute left in the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron sprinted down the court after Andre Iguodala, who was about to make an easy layup and take the lead. James soared off the floor, slammed the ball against the backboard, sending the ball back towards the middle of the court. This was known as “the block.” Cleveland came back from a three-to-one deficit to defeat the Warriors, and LeBron James fulfilled his promise, solidifying his triumphant legacy. Now in his fifteenth season, LeBron is still regarded as “the best basketball player on the planet” and seems to still be in his prime at thirty-two years old. Even after winning an Olympic gold medal, four MVP awards, and three NBA Championships, LeBron James is reminded of how far he has come. He and his wife go “on a cruise” through his hometown, where he still lives to this day. Each street tells a different story. A different chapter. “When you grow up the way I grew up, I don’t think you ever get passed it. I think it’s a part of you forever. Life is like a book and I think you have to go back and read your book sometimes, to learn from it. Maybe I’m at Chapter 8 right now, but you can’t sit down and start reading a book at Chapter 8. You have to go back to Chapter 1.”