Lebron James: Man-Child

Lebron James as a high school player at Akron St. Vincent
Lebron James as a high school player at Akron St. Vincent

Understanding the History of Lebron James

In the late 1990s as an assistant high school boys basketball coach in the state of Ohio (Toledo) I recall hearing about a basketball phenom from Akron who was going to be the next Kobe Bryant..... only better.

The hitch to this story is the kid was still in middle school.

If you had ever seen Lebron James play in high school you would have seen a player who was clearly a man among boys.

James simply dominated at the high school level. He was the first sophomore to be named to the USA Today All-USA basketball team and the first sophomore to be named "Mr. Basketball" in the state of Ohio. A feat he repeated as a junior and senior.

Lebron's high school teams won three state championships in his four years at Akron St. Vincent St. Marys and the only reason that they did not win a fourth is because in his junior year his school was moved up from division lll to the more competitive division ll. After a summer of adjustment however, it was no problem for them to win their third state title in the Lebron James era.

To understand Lebron James is to understand that he has always been a winner and a competitor. In his high school career his teams lost a total of six games while winning over 100 (101). As early as grade school he was dubbed the heir apparent of basketball.

Lost in all of this is the fact that Lebron James was also a very talented football player in high school. In only three years ( he did not play his senior year for obvious reasons), he garnered the attention of many major colleges who were willing to offer him a full scholarship for his football skills.

Because of his athletic prowess Lebron has always been in the spotlight which caused him to have to deal with grownup situations at a very early age. Because of his size, it was easy to forget that Lebron was still just a teenager.

A boy in a man's body.

Lebron James as a high school football player (#9)

With Time Comes Maturity

Because so much was heaped upon him at a young age, many times Lebron was forced to conduct himself as an adult even though he was not. In this, he was not allowed the time to grow into adulthood that was afforded to most teenagers his age.

Maturing into manhood is a slow, awkward and difficult process that if abruptly cut off or forced on a child too soon can have repercussions later on in life.

This is not to say that Lebron James suffers from some adolescent shortcoming as a result of having to grow up too fast but certainly some of the things that he has done like walking off of the court after his Cleveland Cavalier team lost to the Orlando Magic in the conference finals of 2009 without congratulating them and the now infamous "decision" debacle were not the most mature or wise avenues he could have taken.

Throughout his basketball career, Lebron James has enjoyed phenominal success. He went directly from high school to the NBA without missing a beat and for the most part, he has handled himself appropriately at whatever station of life he found himself in.

Lebron is now in his 10th season in the league and as an NBA champion he finds himself at a place he has never been before in his career.

By all appearances it seems that he better understands his position in basketball and as a spokesman for the game he loves. In 2014 he handled his "decision" with more wisdom and maturity.

With his accomplishments with the Miami Heat Lebron has graduated to the top of the basketball world along with other NBA greats and he must act the part.

That's what MVP's and champions do.

note -- Lebron's Akron team was scheduled to come to Toledo to play us ( Libbey High School) in his senior year but a snowstorm caused the game to be cancelled and it was never rescheduled. I wonder what might have happened had they shown up. We were pretty good. It would have been interesting.


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Comments 2 comments

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

I have always been an advocate of high school players attending college before going to the NBA. Certainly James was that rare athlete capable of physically competing on the professional level at a young age, but your hub aptly points out other factors that make the transition more difficult. As well as James has conducted himself most of the time, the pressures and rigors of NBA life has revealed occasional cracks in his armor. The primary benefit of the one-year-of-college-before-going-to-the-NBA rule is to give kids time to become adults. (I don't care if an 18 year old can be accepted in the military and "die for our country"--they are kids.) One year of college is frankly not enough.

James was the exception, and there will be others in the future, but most of these young men need more time to mature. (Don't believe me? See what's been going on with Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, and O.J. Mayo...) And, while some folks might scoff at your comparison between Labron James and Michael Jackson, it is a good one. What becomes of the child who is forced to become an adult too soon? Jackson showed us a strange and ugly answer to that question, and we have to hope no one else illustrates this point to the same degree.

BTW, I like watching James play and hope the best for him. Your blog was very insightful. Thanks for sharing.


ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 6 years ago

Great blog! I'm a Cavs fan and I noticed quite a few times where he took defeat pretty child like. This actually helps me make sence of him. It is a lot hrder when you get pushed into adulthood and its even harder when your in the spot light of everything. I think he's a great player and a nice guy over all. He just needs to take a momment and breath! Most people think he's a jerk... Its not him being a jerk, its the stress hes had riding on him since his young teenage years.

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