Everything you need to know about LeBron James
This year, Los Angeles Lakers standout LeBron James beat the all-time career scoring record. Here's everything to know about the basketball legend.
It’s official: LeBron James is the leading scorer in NBA history. In February, he topped a record that had been held by another Los Angeles Laker, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, since 1984. With basketball season now over, and with another year ahead ripe for making more history, theGrio is taking a look at everything about King James, from his personal life to his activism to his storied athletic career.
LeBron Raymone James was born on Dec. 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. He was raised by his mother, Gloria Marie James. She was only 16 years old when she gave birth, and she had no help from LeBron’s father, Anthony McClelland. For a brief time, Gloria raised LeBron alongside her own mother, but when her mother died, she raised him with help from her brothers. At one point, LeBron was placed in foster care because they were unable to pay their heating bill.
While the James family was still struggling to find stability, so much so that LeBron had missed over half of the school days in fourth grade, the Walker family stepped in. Frank Walker was coaching the peewee football team that an 8-year-old LeBron James played on, and he became aware of the living situation LeBron and his mother were facing. The Walkers took LeBron in until his mother was in a more stable place. Although LeBron was able to move back in with his mother in sixth grade, he stayed in touch with the Walkers and visited them on weekends.
High school career
LeBron James started playing sports at a young age, but he skyrocketed to fame during his high school career. He played basketball at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School and helped his team become state champions in three out of the four years he was there. He was the first-ever sophomore to be asked onto the USA Today All-USA First Team, and by his junior year, he was being called “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated. In 2003, he was the first-round draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Legendary NBA career
As soon as LeBron James entered the NBA, he showed exactly why he had been a first-round pick. At just 18 years old, he debuted with 25 points scored against the Sacramento Kings and went on to have such a good first year that he was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
For the following years of James’ contract with the Cavaliers, he continued to shine, making the All-NBA first team and playing in the NBA All-Star game for the first time in 2005. The following year, James and the Cavaliers headed to the playoffs, ending a dry spell for the team that had lasted since 1998. And in 2009, James won the NBA MVP Award for the first time.
In 2010, James’ contract with the Cavaliers was up, and he became a free agent. Ultimately, he decided to play for the Miami Heat. However, his announcement on an hour-long ESPN special called “The Decision” generated backlash for its length and for the loss Cavaliers fans felt, despite the charity funds the special raised.
The backlash against James for his move to the Heat followed him and the team for most of the following season, especially when the Heat faced the Cavaliers. Despite constant booing directed at James any time he made a play, the Heat ultimately defeated the Cavaliers.
In 2012 and 2013, James was flying high with back-to-back NBA MVP Awards as well as back-to-back NBA championships. But when he became a free agent again, he decided it was time to go back to the Cavaliers.
While many Cavalier fans were happy to see King James return, James spent three seasons butting heads with teammate Kyrie Irving. Still, James delivered on his promise to fans, and the Cavaliers snagged their first NBA title in 2016.
James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, ending his second run with the Cavaliers. His first year with the Lakers was not as stellar as anticipated, as he had his first big career injury, a strained groin, and missed 17 games. Then, the 2020 season was interrupted by COVID-19, though ultimately, the Lakers came home with the championship.
The next year, LeBron James had the longest absence of his career following a sprained ankle. He came back strong, though, becoming the only player to have 10,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists in his career.
Breaking the career scoring record
This year, James broke yet another record: He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career scoring record on Feb. 7, 2023, with 38,390 regular season points. The Lakers ultimately lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 133-130, despite James’ career-defining moment. At the end of the 2022-23 season, he had 38,652 points.
At the Olympics
James has been to the Olympics three times. He was a teenager when he went to Athens for the 2004 Olympics and spent most of his time on the bench, though he did play in a few games. Team USA lost to Argentina that year in the semifinals, and after that loss, they rebranded as the Redeem Team, going on to win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. James won his second Olympic gold medal in 2012 in London with Team USA.
LeBron James has been married to Savannah James since 2013. The two met as teenagers and have been in a relationship since they were in high school. They share three children: LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., Bryce Maximus James and Zhuri Nova James.
The couple found out Savannah was expecting when LeBron was only a rookie in the NBA. She later admitted that the experience terrified her, but with her determination to see the pregnancy through and reassurance from LeBron, she gave birth to LeBron Jr. in 2004. Three years later, in 2007, Bryce was born, and Zhuri joined the family in 2014. Because James’ father hadn’t been active in his life, he was worried about what kind of father he would be. But he has put his heart into being a dad.
LeBron James has certainly never been shy about speaking out about issues he cares about. In his early years in the NBA, he was open about his support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and also joined his teammates in a protest after Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012.
After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, James spoke out against him, along with his teammates. Immediately after the election, he and his team refused to stay at a Trump hotel. Later in Trump’s presidency, as Trump derided athletes who kneeled in protest, James publicly laughed off the criticism, prompting Fox News host Laura Ingraham to say that James should “shut up and dribble.” James turned that phrase around on his haters, though, and made “Shut Up and Dribble” the name of his Showtime documentary series.
James has also brought activism and charity to his hometown. The LeBron James Family Foundation got started helping Akron’s youth reach for higher education, and the I Promise program has helped hundreds of kids on the path to finishing their education. An I Promise school was even established in 2018.
With his devotion to family, dedication to education, passion for activism, generosity to charity and, of course, dominance in professional basketball, it’s clear that on or off the court, LeBron James knows how to put his heart into what matters to him.