LeBron James Biography
LeBron Raymone James is a forward for the Miami Heat, who acquired James in the summer of 2010. Prior to that, James spent the first seven years of his professional basketball career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers selected James with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. James is a nine-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA most valuable player and two-time NBA Finals MVP, making him one of a select group of players to win at least four regular season MVPs and two championships.
LeBron James was born on Dec. 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio to Gloria James and Anthony McClelland. McClelland wasn't a part of Gloria's life, leaving her to raise LeBron alone at the age of 16. Gloria James began dating Eddie Jackson when LeBron was a young child. Despite Jackson being in and out of jail for most of LeBron's youth, James formed a bond with him.
LeBron James attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. As a freshman, James averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, leading his team to a 27-0 record and a Division III state title.
As a sophomore, James became the first sophomore player ever chosen to the USA Today All-USA First Team after averaging 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. St. Vincent-St. Mary's won its second straight Division III state title after going 26-1.
James improved his numbers a junior, averaging 29.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He became more of a household name after appearing in Slam Magazine, Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine. Despite his personal improvement, St. Vincent-St. Mary's didn't repeat as Division III state champions, losing in the championship game.
James ran into some trouble during his senior year. The Ohio High School Athletic Association investigated James when a bank approved a loan for $80,000 for the purchase of a Hummer H2 by his mother, Gloria, for his 18th birthday. James later accepted a Gale Sayers and Wes Unseld throwback jersey from a local store, which violated the OHSAA's policy on an amateur accepting a gift for more than $100. James was stripped of his eligibility. He appealed before a judge, who blocked the ruling and reduced the penalty to a two-game suspension. The school was forced to forfeit one of their wins as a result, which was their only loss on the season.
James averaged 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.4 steals per game during his senior year. He was selected as Mr. Basketball of Ohio and to the All-USA First Team for the third consecutive year. James was the Most Valuable Player of the Jordan Capital Classic, the EA Sports Roundball Classic and the McDonald's All-American Game. By playing in three postseason all-star games, James forfeited his NCAA eligibility.
In 2009, a documentary of James' high school career was released titled "More Than a Game."
The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. In his NBA debut against the Sacramento Kings, James scored 25 points to go with 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. In 79 games, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, winning NBA Rookie of the Year. He became the youngest Cavalier to win the award and just one of three NBA rookies (Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan) to average at least 20 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds. James was the youngest player to score 40 points in a game when he scored 41 against the New Jersey Nets on March 27, 2004. The Cavaliers finished the season 35-47, an 18-win improvement from the following year.
In 2004-05, James averaged 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game, just the fifth person in NBA history to average 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists for an entire season. James was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game as a starter for the Eastern Conference. He was the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double, posting 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against the Portland Trailblazers on Jan. 19, 2005. Three days later, James recorded his second triple-double (28 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) against the Golden State Warriors. He was an All-NBA Second Team selection and the youngest player in league history to be awarded All-NBA honors.
James was voted to this second straight NBA All-Star Game in 2005-06, leading the Eastern Conference to a 122-120 victory. He was selected as All-Star MVP after scoring 29 points, the youngest in league history at 21 years and 51 days. On the year, James averaged 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game and the Cavaliers made the playoffs for the first time since 1998 after finishing 50-32.
In his playoff debut against the Washington Wizards, James recorded a triple-double (32 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) and was just the third person in NBA history to achieve such a feat. In 13 playoff games, James averaged 30.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Cavaliers lost to the Detroit Pistons in seven games. James finished second in the MVP voting behind Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash.
The Cavaliers repeated their 50-win season in 2006-07 behind James and his 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. In the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, James scored 28 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a game-high 32 minutes.
One of the greatest playoff performances in recent history came in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pistons. James scored a franchise-record 48 points, including 29 of the Cavaliers final 30 points, in a double-overtime victory over Detroit. The Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs but were swept. James averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the NBA Finals.
James became the first Cavalier in franchise history to lead the league in scoring during the 2007-08 season. He won the 2008 All-Star Game MVP after putting up 27 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds as the Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference 134-128. James recorded seven triple-doubles during the year including in back-to-back games on two different situations. It was the first time a player recorded back-to-back triple doubles twice in a season since Earvin "Magic" Johnson in 1988 for the Los Angeles Lakers.
During the 2007-08 regular season, Washington Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson called James "overrated." James responded by saying that responding to Stevenson "would be like Jay-Z saying something bad about Soulja Boy." Soulja Boy showed up to Game 3 of the Wizards-Cavaliers in support of Stevenson and Washington. Jay-Z responded to Stevenson's comments on James behalf in a track titled "Playoff," where he took shots at both Soulja Boy and the Wizards guard. In the end, Stevenson was not able to slow down James or the Cavaliers, losing in six games.
Boston knocked out Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in seven games, despite a 45-point game by James in Game 7 in Boston. His one-on-one duel with eventual Finals MVP Paul Pierce in that game evoked memories of a similar showdown 20 years earlier between Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird.
James was named the 2008-09 NBA MVP after averaging 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game while leading the Cavaliers to a 66-16 record. He became the youngest player in NBA history to win the award. Along with the MVP, James was selected to the All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team. James became just the third person in NBA history to average 30 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in a playoff series when the Cavaliers swept the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite a game-winning three pointer in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Orlando Magic defeated the Cavaliers in six games. At the end of Game 6, James walked off the court without shaking hands with his opponents. James later responded by saying, "It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them, I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. ... I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."
James led the Cavaliers to the NBA's best record in 2009-10. James averaged 29.7 points, 8.6 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game and was selected to his sixth consecutive All-Star appearance. James became the first player since Oscar Robertson to have at least 40 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds in a regular season game. James scored his 15,000th career point on March 13, the youngest player in NBA history to achieve such an accomplishment. James won his second-straight MVP award, receiving 116 out of a possible 123 first-place vote. James announced that he would be changing his jersey number from #23 to #6 starting in the 2010-11 season. The change of number is out of respect of former Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan. Despite having the best record in the league, the Cavaliers once again fell short of the Finals, losing in the second round to the Celtics in six games. James was widely criticized for his play as the Cavaliers lost the final three games of the series, particularly in Game 5.
After the 2009-10 season, James declined the player option on his contract, becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.
James officially became a free agent on July 1, 2010, and hosted meetings in Cleveland with six teams: the Knicks, Nets, Heat, Bulls, Clippers and Cavaliers. On July 8, 2010, James announced his intention to sign a free agent contract with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who'd announced the same intention the day before. James announced his choice during a one-hour special on ESPN, "The Decision", which was put together by his LRMR Marketing company and benefited multiple James-supported charities. Later that night, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert -- who'd been informed of James's decision just minutes before the show began --- released an open letter to fans in which he harshly criticized James, calling him "selfish" and "heartless" and accusing him of quitting during the 2010 playoffs. Gilbert was fined $100,000 by commissioner David Stern, who also criticized the way James handled free agency.
On July 9, 2010, the Cavaliers and Heat negotiated a sign-and-trade deal, sending James to Miami in exchange for three future draft picks and a trade exception. The Heat celebrated the acquisition of James and fellow free agent Chris Bosh and the re-signing of Heat star Dwyane Wade with a public pep rally at American Airlines Arena in front of 13,000 fans.
The Heat lost their 2010-11 regular-season opener to the Celtics, after a preseason in which their three stars played together for just two minutes (due to an injury to Wade). James was regularly booed at every road game, as the Heat got off to a disappointing 9-8 start. On Dec. 2, 2010, Miami was just 11-8 entering James's first trip to Cleveland as a visiting player. Fans peppered James with obscene chants and booed every time he appeared on the giant TV screens beneath the scoreboard, with the boos reaching an apex with James did his signature chalk toss. After a slow start in the game, James exploded for an arena-record 24 points in the third quarter, finishing with 38 in just three quarters of action to lead the Heat to a 118-90 win. The win was the third in a stretch where the Heat won 21 out of 22 games, pushing them toward the top of the Eastern conference. James was once again voted in as a starter at the All-Star Game, where he recorded a triple-double in a losing effort for the East. After the break, the Heat struggled again, losing six out of eight, including a five-game losing streak during which they lost multiple fourth-quarter leads. James missed multiple potential game-tying or winning shots during the losing streak. However, he was able to help Miami turn things around again, as the Heat won 15 of 18 to close the regular season.
In his first playoff series with Miami, James averaged 24.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG and 5.2 APG to lead the Heat to a 4-1 series win over the 76ers. He continued to play well as the Heat eliminated the Celtics and Bulls to reach the NBA Finals. However, against the Dallas Mavericks, James averaged just 17.8 PPG and had 24 turnovers in six games, as the Heat fell to the Mavericks.
James entered the 2011-12 season with a different approach, later saying that he played the 2010-11 season to "prove people wrong" and that wasn't his style of basketball. The Heat opened the lockout-shortened season with a blowout victory against the Dallas, spoiling the Mavericks' banner-raising night. James, who worked with Hakeem Olajuwon during the offseason, used a refined post game to once again put up MVP-like numbers. He was able to carry the team during an extended absence by Dwyane Wade, helping lead Miami to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat easily defeated the Knicks in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, but were challenged in the second round by the Indiana Pacers. With Miami down 2-1 in the series, James responded with a 40-point, 18-rebound, 9-assist performance in Game 4, turning the series around. The Heat would go on to eliminate the Pacers in six games. Miami opened the conference finals against Boston with consecutive wins, but followed that by losing three straight, including a listless performance on their home floor in Game 5. Facing elimination in Boston, James responded with one of the best games of his career, finishing with 45 points -- including 30 in the first half -- 15 rebounds and five assists to tie the series. It marked just the second time in NBA history a player recorded 45, 15 and 5 in the same playoff game, joining Wilt Chamberlain in 1964. The Heat went on to win Game 7, 101-88, to advance to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year.
In Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, James scored 30 points, the first time in his Finals career he'd scored more than 25. However, the Thunder were able to overcome a 13-point deficit and take a 1-0 lead in the series. The Heat responded by winning Game 2 in Oklahoma City, led by James's 32 points, including a key bank shot with 1:26 left in the game and two clinching free throws in the final seconds. In Game 3, James once again led the team with 29 points, and the Heat took a 2-1 series lead.
James nearly posted a triple-double in Game 4, falling one rebound short thanks in part to leg cramps that forced him to miss much of the final five minutes of the game. James had to be carried off the court, but returned to the game, hitting a crucial three-pointer that broke a 94-94 tie. He returned to the bench with 55 seconds left, but the Heat were able to hold on without him, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. With a chance to close out the series at home, Miami responded with a strong performance, earning a 121-106 victory. James finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, becoming just the fifth different player to record a triple-double in a Finals-clinching victory. With the win, James earned his first NBA championship and was unanimously voted Finals MVP.
James and the Heat once again entered the 2012-13 season as the favorites to win the NBA title. Early in the season they showed signs of a "championship hangover", frequently getting off to slow starts in games and suffering losses to opponents they were expected to beat easily. After a two-point loss to Portland on January 10, the Heat led the Knicks by just half a game in the Eastern Conference and trailed four teams from the West for the best record in the NBA.
From that point on, the Heat would not lose consecutive games for the rest of the season. Between February 3 and March 25, Miami won 27 games in a row, the second-longest win streak in NBA history. James averaged 27.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists during the streak, while shooting 57.5 percent from the field. James's improved field-goal shooting was a storyline all season, as he finished the regular season shooting a career-best 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range. The Heat won 66 games, matching the best regular-season win total of James's career (2008-09 Cavaliers), and James took home his fourth MVP award. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Bill Russell as the only players to win the award at least four times.
James continued to post MVP numbers in the postseason, as the Heat easily defeated the Bucks and Bulls in the first two rounds of the postseason. In the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals, James made a lay-up as time expired to give the Heat a win over the Pacers, just the second game-winning buzzer-beater of his playoff career. The Pacers proved to be a tough foe for James and the Heat, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh struggled with injuries. James finished the series averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists, as Miami advanced to the Finals with a 23-point win in Game 7.
Miami's opponent in the Finals was a familiar one for James: the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat dropped Game 1 at home, and alternated wins and losses as the Spurs' defense was able to keep James in check through the first three games of the series. He broke out with a 33-point performance in Game 4, then -- after scoring just 25 in a Game 5 loss -- added 32 points and 37 points in Games 6 and 7 respectively. Miami became the first team to beat San Antonio in an NBA Finals series, and James was awarded his second NBA Finals MVP trophy.
LeBron James started competing for the United States following his rookie season in 2004. He played sparingly during the 2004 Olympics, with head coach Larry Brown preferring to use his experienced stars. That team became the first US National Team comprised of NBA players to lose a game at the Olympics, eventually earning a bronze medal.
James returned to a re-configured national team as a leader for the 2006 FIBA World Championship. He averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game but the U.S. took home a bronze medal again.
After qualifying for the 2008 Olympics at the FIBA Americas Championship, James helped Team USA capture a gold medal. He shot a tournament-best 76 percent from the field and averaged 18.1 points.
James duplicated his gold-medal efforts in 2012, when he joined Michael Jordan (1992) as the only players to win MVP, Finals MVP and a gold medal in the same calendar year.
In 2007, LeBron James and Damon James refused to sign a petition from teammate Ira Newble over the Chinese's government role in the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. James said he didn't sign because he didn't have enough information on the situation.
James was the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine in March 2008. The controversial photo, which was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, featured James posing with Gisele Bundchen and drew comparisons to the movie poster for "King Kong."
On July 6, 2009 at the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy, Xavier University's Jordan Crawford dunked on James. The play was caught on tape but organizers of the camp confiscated it.
In his book, "Shooting Stars," James admitted to smoking marijuana during his junior year in high school to help deal with the stress he was getting from the media.
In 2010, James was widely criticized for his "The Decision" special, during which he announced his intention to leave the Cavaliers and join the Heat. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released a statement that was highly critical of James. NBA commissioner David Stern said the special was ill-advised and poorly produced, and also fined Gilbert $100,000 for his statement.
LeBron James co-hosted the 2007 ESPY Awards with comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. On Sept. 29, 2007, James co-hosted the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live."
LeBron James has two children with Savannah Brinson, LeBron James Jr. and Bryce Maximus James. James became engaged to Brinson on Dec. 31, 2011.
LeBron James has a wide range of endorsement deals. Before he played his first game in the NBA, James signed a seven-year, $90 million deal with Nike. James re-signed with Nike in March 2010 for an undisclosed amount. As part of his Nike endorsement, James has his own signature shoe line.
James also has endorsement contracts with Upper Deck, Coca-Cola, State Farm, McDonalds and Bubblicious. As part of an endorsement deal with HP and Microsoft, James turned his "LeBrons" characters from his popular Nike commercials into a YouTube animated series. The series debuted in 2011.
In 2011, James and his LRMR marketing group brokered a deal with Fenway Sports Group to become the sole marketer of James's global rights. As part of the deal, James and manager Maverick Carter became minority owners in English soccer team Liverpool FC.