LeBron James: The Kid From Akron

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The city of Akron is a tough place for families in poverty. There’s crime in the streets, the houses are very small, run-down, and cheap, and it’s a tough place for kids to truly live their childhood. On December 30th, 1984, that narrative changed, as a child was born who was destined to change the narrative of the crime-infested town that was Akron, Ohio. His name was LeBron James. The son of Gloria James, Lebron had to live a challenging life while growing up. He didn’t have a father, his mom was 16 when he was born, and his family was in poverty. He missed school early and often; he had to have foster families take care of him multiple times, and he was already somewhat discriminated against because of his race. Those factors didn’t stop him from constantly working on his basketball skills, they didn’t stop his determination to be great, and they sure as hell didn’t stop his beliefs in his dreams. The childhood, personality, and skills of LeBron James are the reasons why he is an outlier, an entrepreneur, an inspiration to others, and one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

The biggest aspect of LeBron’s life that truly made him an outlier was his childhood. Growing up in Akron, Ohio, he faced poverty and crime throughout his younger years. “James is the only child of Gloria James, who gave birth to him when she was just sixteen years old. Gloria struggled to provide for James during his childhood. When James was about five years old, he and his mother moved seven times in a year. For a couple of years during elementary school, James lived with a foster family” (“LeBron James Biography”). This shows some of the struggles that LeBron had to deal with that tons of other stars and celebrities didn’t have to deal with growing up. These aspects hampered his social life, his school life, and his sports life, but he managed to find a way to push through it every single day and strive for greatness. One of the most important things that Lebron got from this rough experience was his relationship with his mother. “ Gloria's longtime boyfriend, Eddie Jackson, has acted as a father figure for James, but he was not always around during James's youth, spending several years in prison for selling drugs and, later, for fraud. Regardless of any troubles they may have had, however, James and his mother have a close and supportive relationship” (“LeBron James Biography”). This relationship between the two has helped each of them grow over the years, as it made them keep believing in each other through their younger years and it has kept them together throughout the success they have had over the years.

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LeBron’s challenging childhood only made him work harder than anyone else throughout his younger years, and that made him one of the best players to ever come out of high school, and one of the best professional basketball players of all time. His elite skill level, his unique hype surrounding him, and his swagger that came with his game put a target on his back, once again making him an outlier, the only difference this time was that he was an outlier in the NBA, not just in Akron. After seven years in the league, playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron decided to sign with the Miami Heat, which only made him even more of an outlier to everyone in the world. “Upon leaving the Cavaliers, James drew intense criticism from sports analysts, executives, fans, and current and former players. The Decision itself was also scrutinized and viewed as unnecessary. Many thought that the prolonged wait for James's choice was unprofessional as not even the teams courting him were aware of his decision until moments before the show. Upon learning that James would not be returning to Cleveland, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert published an open letter to fans in which he aggressively denounced James's actions. Some angry fans of the team recorded videos of themselves burning his jersey. Former NBA players, including Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, were also critical of James” (“LeBron James”). The Decision was broadcast on national television, and it was the moment when he announced where he was going to sign for the upcoming season. This choice would change the path of his career, and even though it looked like a horrible choice at the time, it was the best thing that could have happened to LeBron. This raised his career to the next level and taught him some valuable lessons on how to deal with being the outlier and receiving so much hate.

These experiences in LeBron’s life of being an outlier and being the one that everyone hates have only ended in good things for the outcome of his career and other life achievements. He stapled himself as one of the greatest people to ever play the game of basketball, and one of the greatest influences to other people off the court. “Throughout his career, James has been ranked by Forbes as one of the world's most influential athletes, and in 2017, he was listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. During his first stint with the Cavaliers, he was adored by local fans, and Sherwin-Williams displayed a giant Nike-produced banner of James on its world headquarters” (“LeBron James”). This shows how the life and career he has made for himself through being an outlier has turned him into one of the most respectable people on the planet. Even though he was one of the most hated people at the time of The Decision, he prevailed through those tough times and worked his way from major outlier to an icon. Along with being such an influence off of the court, his background of being an outlier turned him into one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. “As of June 2019, he has been named to 15 All-NBA Teams, which is tied for the most in league history, and 12 All-NBA first teams, which is an NBA record His four MVP awards are matched only by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Bill Russell; James and Russell are the only players to win four MVP awards in a five-year span. James has also won three Finals MVP Awards, which is tied for the second-most all-time, and earned All-Defensive honors every season from 2009 to 2014.” (LeBron James). The accolades that LeBron has attained throughout his career are unheard of, unmatched, and a true sign of all-around greatness. Even though his on the court accolades are one of a kind, LeBron thinks that his greatest achievement came off the court, in the summer of 2018, when he opened the I Promise school in his hometown of Akron. In an interview with Rachel Nichols of ESPN, Nichols asked, “You're a guy who has won three NBA titles, four MVPs, and yet you will tell anyone who listens that opening this school today is a greater moment than any of those -- and I got tape of you in Game 7 in the NBA Finals. Do you mean it?”, in which LeBron replied “I do. I do mean it. I can sit here and be at a loss for words, which I am now.” All of his struggle and success in life culminated up to this point, and he believes that this is his greatest achievement because he wants to make sure no kid has to go through what he went through in the ’80s and ’90s in his childhood. He’s doing this by giving them multiple meals a day, education and a way to freely travel to the school, and hospitality. (Nichols). This image that LeBron has painted for himself throughout his career is a result of the morals he has made for himself from his childhood and other difficult times in his life.

The childhood, personality, and skills of LeBron James are the reasons why he is an outlier, an entrepreneur, an inspiration to others, and one of the greatest basketball players of all time. An outlier can be classified as many different things. Anyone can be an outlier, no matter what their profession is, what their childhood was, what their background is, anything. The same goes for LeBron James. His motto in life is “Strive for Greatness”, and many people know him as “The Kid From Akron”. Both of these sayings come from his experiences of being an outlier for most of his life, and along with those sayings, his career wouldn’t be even close to the same if he didn’t have those experiences throughout his life.

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LeBron James: The Kid From Akron. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/lebron-james-the-kid-from-akron/
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