LeBron James Was Raised by a Single Mother Who Had Him When She Was a Teenager

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Feb. 8 2023, Published 11:23 a.m. ET

If it wasn't already readily apparent, LeBron James cemented his legacy as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport when he broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career points record on Feb. 7, 2023. Breaking that record may have further cemented his legacy, but it also led some to have questions about where LeBron came from and who his parents are.

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Who are LeBron James's parents?

LeBron was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1984 to Gloria Marie James. She was just 16 when he was born. His father, Anthony McLelland, has a lengthy criminal record and was not involved in his life.

According to The Guardian, Gloria's mother and grandmother both died shortly after LeBron was born, and she was left to look after her son and her younger brothers on her own.

LeBron James
Source: Getty Images
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In those younger years of his life, making ends meet was often a struggle. LeBron and his family moved from apartment to apartment, and Gloria struggled to find a steady job to support them. During one year, LeBron missed 100 of the 162 days of school.

"I wouldn't wish some of the stuff we went through on anyone," Gloria has said since. "Not on my worst enemy."

The real pivot point for LeBron was apparently the moment he met Frank Walker, who eventually agreed to take care of LeBron after it became clear that Gloria was struggling to provide for him.

"My life changed. I had shelter and food," LeBron told The Guardian back in 2003. "I'll never forget what the Walkers did for me, especially Frank. He doesn't get the recognition he deserves because he's real quiet, but he was the first one to give me a basketball and the first one to show a real interest."

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LeBron didn't touch a basketball until he was 9.

While many great prodigies start at a young age, LeBron didn't start really learning the game of basketball until he was 9 and living with the Walkers. He started playing organized basketball in the fifth grade and immediately showed the kind of promise that suggested he had talent. He led his high school team to several state titles and was widely known to be an exciting basketball prospect by the end of his high school career.

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"His gift is that you can teach him something and he catches on real quick," Frank explained to The Guardian. "Show him something once or twice and he picks it up. With other kids, it takes a lot longer. That's his gift."

Of course, his natural athleticism, skill with the ball, and basketball IQ didn't hurt his career much either.

Now, as LeBron continues his 20th season, it's clear that he'll go down as one of the legends of the basketball world. No one knows when, if ever, his scoring record will be broken — but his name is already listed among the best to ever play the game, regardless of how long that record stands.

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