45 amazing facts about LeBron James
Who is LeBron James, really? Is he the world’s most famous basketball player? Is he an enthusiastic dad who loves hanging with family? Or is he a leading voice for social justice in the United States? The answer is, of course, all of the above. But even the biggest basketball fans can learn a thing or two from the guy nicknamed “The Chosen One.”
His beginnings were as humble as they get, but with his mom in his corner, he never let his circumstances slow him down.
Stick around to the very end, and we’ll even fill you in on King James’ secret to success — it’s a lot more universal than you might think.
What does he love? What could he live without? We’ll take you inside the mind of No. 23. Consider this your all-access pass into the mind of the GOAT.
Let’s tip this thing.
He could've been a football star
LeBron was selected to the first team all-state football team his sophomore year of high school as a wide receiver, and, as a junior, he helped the team to the Ohio state semifinals.
But his senior year, James chose to forgo football season to recover from a broken wrist in time for his final year of high school basketball. And with that decision, his fate as a future NBA star was sealed.
Lifeguard to the stars
Veteran All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony owes a debt of gratitude to LeBron. In 2003, Anthony and James were snorkeling in the Bahamas with future Team USA cohort Dwyane Wade when the group got separated. Anthony drifted away from the boat and lost sight of the group. Things could have gotten dicey if not for LeBron’s quick reaction.
LeBron dove into the water without hesitation to corral the wayward star, according to Wade and Anthony. Anthony thanked James for saving his life in an Instagram Live.
Lefty at heart
This might come as a surprise to many basketball fans, but LeBron James is left-handed. That's right. The Chosen One actually chose to master the game with his right hand, despite writing with his left.
He speculates that it may be because he watched his heroes — like Michael Jordan and Penny Hardaway — play righty over the years. "I just thought I guess it looked cool," he said, "until I got older and I wish I was a lefty, because those shots look a lot better.”
Sweet moves and sweet tooth
While football's biggest star, Tom Brady, eats a strict diet that avoids gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, coffee, alcohol and nightshades, LeBron James takes a somewhat different approach — that is, if you ask former teammate Tristan Thompson.
"He has the worst [expletive] diet ever," Thompson told the Athletic in 2020, "He loves sweets. He eats desserts and French toast. It's crazy how his body just burns it."
But what does his trainer say?
James' longtime trainer, Mike Mancias, did an interview with GQ in 2019. He said LeBron's diet is simple: "Just clean eating all the time, with the occasional dessert and glass of wine."
Though LeBron tried the Paleo diet for couple of months, Mancias wouldn't recommend it as an in-season plan. James needs more carbohydrates than the diet recommends to fuel all those minutes on the court. What's one food LeBron doesn't like? LeBron doesn't like pork, Mancias says.
LeBron LOVES tacos
This man loves tacos, and as a Los Angeles Laker, he's never too far from a high-quality bite. He talks about it quite a bit. But don't take our word for it — he tried to trademark the phrase "Taco Tuesday."
But, unfortunately for LeBron, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected his 2019 application on the grounds that "taco Tuesday" is too commonplace a message to belong to any one person, even to the king.
He's a dog person
Early in his career, LeBron spoke often of his Cane Corso, (aptly) named King.
In 2018, the James family grew to include a french bulldog puppy named Indigo Sky James.
The family post videos and photos of the four-legged buddies often. Indigo Sky's interests include napping and dressing up with his human sister Zhuri.
Who is LeBron's NFL team?
James has claimed a few NFL franchises as his own. He is a long-time Cowboys fan as well as a supporter of the Cleveland Browns.
Most recently, when asked who he was cheering for in the 2021 Super Bowl, he responded, diplomatically, " I just want to see a great game." As he tells it, James has friends on many football teams, which makes declaring allegiance to just one team tough.
What's on his playlist?
If you want to get pumped up like LeBron does before a game, you're in luck. In December 2019, LeBron released a "Revenge SZN" playlist featuring tracks by Nipsey Hussle, YG, Anderson Paak, Jay-Z, Biggie and 2Pac.
Drake, Future and Meek Mill also appear on this pregame lineup. This playlist seemed to fire up the Lakers' leading man in all the right ways; the team went on to win the 2020 NBA Championship.
What about the chalk thing?
LeBron James started throwing chalk in the air in his first years on the Cavaliers for one very simple reason: The fans loved it.
He has stopped and restarted the ritual a few times over the course of his career, doing the toss for lucky fans in Miami and Los Angeles.
But how did a kid from Akron, Ohio become the greatest basketball player of his generation? James credits his mom.
LeBron's aforementioned mom, Gloria, was 16 when he was born. Three years later, her mother, who they lived with at the time, died suddenly of a heart attack. Gloria and LeBron lost their home.
Following her mother's death, Gloria, young son in tow, moved around a lot. The two crashed where they could while Gloria worked short-term gigs to make ends meet. When LeBron was 9, Gloria decided the growing boy needed more consistency and should move in with his pee-wee football coach, Frank Walker.
His father wasn't in the picture
LeBron's biological father has never been a part of his life. James has said many times that his father's absence inspired him to be active and present in his children's lives.
In this photo from 2016, LeBron celebrates winning his third NBA championship with his daughter, Zhuri.
No pressure, Junior
In an episode of the unscripted series "The Shop," LeBron told Jon Stewart that he regrets giving LeBron James Jr. his name, because he doesn't want Bronny to feel he has to follow exactly in dad's storied footsteps.
Bronny James is a well-known high school basketball player at Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, California.
Big Frankie had an eye for greatness
How did LeBron get into basketball anyway? It was Walker, or "Big Frankie," as LeBron affectionately calls him, who signed James up for his first basketball team when LeBron was in fifth grade.
That stabilizing year that he spent with the Walkers, sleeping in the same bed and attending the same school for a year, set him on the path to becoming an McDonald's All-American, the No. 1 draft pick and the international face of basketball.
Baby's first dunk
The first time LeBron James dunked, he was in eighth grade at Riedinger Middle School in Akron. But this dunk didn't happen in practice or in a game against a rival middle school.
It was a teachers vs. students game. He described the event in a 2011 postgame press conference in Miami. "I got a fast break and this was the first time I ever even tried it. I said, 'I'm going for it.'" He added that, graciously, his teachers didn't flunk him.
Trouble in jerseys
In high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary's, LeBron became a bona fide star. College scouts came to his games, and during his junior year, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated next to the words "The Chosen One" — the origin of the moniker. But it wasn't all high-flying dunks and media attention.
LeBron was briefly declared ineligible by the Ohio High School Athletic Association. His crime: accepting free jerseys from a local shop owner. OHSAA and James' camp eventually came to a compromise in court and LeBron was reinstated. James said the shop owner was just congratulating the teen for making the honor roll.
The previous week, OHSAA also investigated the car he received as an 18th birthday gift from his mom, but found nothing improper had occurred; LeBron's relationship with his own mom predated his basketball stardom, after all.
Pass the Buckeye
LeBron has said in many interviews that, if he had gone to college, he would have attended Ohio State University or the University of North Carolina.
Of course, James went straight to the NBA, so he never did have to pick between the two schools.
What did LeBron discover at the Akron-Canton airport?
No, he didn't find a page-turning political thriller; he found his future agent. LeBron James and Rich Paul first met at the local airport where Paul was selling jerseys out of the trunk of his car.
James spotted Paul's Warren Moon throwback football jersey and was instantly intrigued. They sparked a friendship that would become a business partnership. Almost two decades later, their lives look a little different, but the two are still close.
LeBron has tattoos honoring his mom, each of this three children and the late Kobe Bryant. You can see his mother's name on his right shoulder.
He also has "Chosen 1" tattooed on his back and the words "Witness" and "History" tattooed on each leg.
High school sweethearts
Savannah Brinson was just 16 when she met 17-year-old local Akron basketball star LeBron James. The two reportedly went to Outback Steakhouse for their first date.
James proposed to Brinson at a New Year's party just after midnight on January 1, 2012. The two were married in September 2013 in a private ceremony in San Diego. They have three children, Bronny, Bryce and Zhuri.
In early 2018, LeBron made critical comments about then-President Donald Trump’s policies, and in response, Fox News host Laura Ingraham uttered the now-infamous line “shut up and dribble.” This, of course, was not the first time James and Team Trump had disagreed publicly.
In 2017, James took his frustration directly to its source: Trump. Fellow All-Star Stephen Curry said he wouldn’t visit the White House to celebrate the Golden State Warriors’ recent championship. Trump responded by disinviting Curry. LeBron stepped to Curry’s defense tweeting, “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going ... Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
Shut up? Definitely not...
James has never shied away from taking a stand, but following Ingraham's "shut up and dribble" comment, he doubled down, emphasizing that he and his words mean too much to underserved youth for him to stay silent on important issues regarding inequality.
And he backs up that commitment to young people with more than just words...
LeBron helped found the I Promise School, a public school in Akron that, by 2022, will serve at-risk students in grades one through eight. With the support of the LeBron James Family Foundation, the school works to help students and their parents create a stable learning environment, both at home and at school.
And the early numbers speak to the effectiveness of the school's methods. In 2019, 90% of the third and fourth graders met or exceeded the growth goals in reading and math, outperforming their peers in the school district.
A community like no other
A few doors down from the I Promise School, in this defunct restaurant and cabaret, the LeBron James Family Foundation is building House Three Thirty (in honor of the Akron area code 330).
House Three Thirty will be a community space where families from the I Promise school and housing programs can host group events, attend financial literacy and job talks, use the sports complex and even grab a bite to eat.
The complex will also have a coffee shop, ice cream parlor and cabaret space for cultural performances. The foundation plans to have the space up and running sometime in 2022.
Assists over everything
And it's not just the residents of Akron James works to help. LeBron also loves to see his teammates shine.
In 2015, when he was on the verge of becoming the Cavaliers all-time assists leader, he told the Associated Press, "I've always loved the success of my teammates more than myself. I've always been like that since I was a kid."
All-time leading scorer?
But all those assists don't prevent LeBron from having his moment.
We certainly don't want to jinx the king, but at LeBron's current scoring pace, he'll overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time NBA scoring leader sometime in 2022 or 2023.
He currently sits at third all-time in scoring behind Kareem and Karl Malone. This photo shows the free throw that would earn him his 34,000th point in the NBA.
If he continues scoring at a steady clip, he could overtake Malone for the second-place spot as early as the 2021-22 season.
Two peas in a pod? More like two GOATs in a boat...
LeBron James grew up watching Michael Jordan dominate with the Chicago Bulls. The comparisons between the two began while LeBron was still in high school. Debates as to who is the greatest of all time continue to this day.
But putting those debates aside, the two hoops megastars share a unique accomplishment. They are the only players to win league MVP, NBA Finals MVP and an Olympic gold medal all in the same year. Jordan checked all of those boxes in 1992. LeBron did it 20 years later, in 2012.
Like Mike: Space Jam 2
LeBron followed in Michael Jordan's footsteps in more than just basketball. In July 2021, the long-anticipated sequel to Space Jam will finally get its day in the sun.
In the film, LeBron gets stuck in a virtual space and must help the Looney Toons safely return to the real world by defeating a team designed by an algorithm.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
LeBron appeared (as himself) on a special 2009 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants called "Truth or Square."
In the appearance, Patchy the Pirate tries to persuade LeBron to be a guest on a SpongeBob fan club special, but James is busy. He has a game that night.
So, what is the secret to all of this success? Could we find the key in the physical preparation? LeBron shared a photo of one of his workouts on his Instagram Story, and it included a mixture of traditional weight lifts, cable workouts, sprints and bodyweight resistance training.
Trainer Mancias says James' favorite piece of equipment is the VersaClimber — it's effective as well as easy on the joints. And all this exercise seems like it's working, because...
He's never missed a playoff game
That's right, in all of his 14 postseason runs, LeBron has never missed a playoff game due to injury (or any other reason, for that matter).
By comparison, veteran guard Chris Paul has played in 12 playoff campaigns and has missed six games, for one reason or another.
In the last game of the 2020 NBA Finals, LeBron passed former Laker guard Derek Fisher for most playoff games in NBA history — a whopping 260 matches.
A change of heart
In a 2009 interview on "The View," James said that his favorite team to play against in the NBA was the Los Angeles Lakers.
As we all know, just shy of a decade later, LeBron would pack his bags and head to the City of Angeles to become the face of the Lakers franchise.
Just the king and his wine
LeBron is in an unofficial NBA wine club with fellow All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. Many times in the 2020-21 season, LeBron has stated that he has a bottle of wine waiting for him at home after a long day's work.
Actress Gabrielle Union, who is married to Wade, wrote in her memoir, "Now no longer are people impressed by your financial portfolio or how big your house is. Nobody talks about square footage. Nobody talks about cars or jewelry or whatever. It's who can bring the best bottle of wine."
But that's not the only way LeBron winds down after a busy day.
The soothing sound of falling rain
He started using Calm — an app with nature sounds and guided meditation sessions — years ago, playing rain sounds to help him fall asleep.
Since then, he's become a spokesman for the company, even starring in a commercial.
A meditation on meditation
The four-time NBA champion has become increasingly vocal about meditation as a part of his recipe for success.
“You feel kinda weird about it at first because it’s something that’s new, something that’s outside the box for myself,” James said. “But I got more and more comfortable with my inner self, inner spirits and inner energy and things of that nature, I guess. So it works for me.”
LeBron James: Soccer tycoon
Another thing that works for LeBron is his soccer team. You read that right. In 2011, James received a 2% ownership stake in Liverpool FC of the English Premier League as a part of an international marketing deal with Fenway Sports Management.
The team's value has grown significantly in the past decade, and LeBron's small share, once worth a measly few million, is now valued at $43.6 million — a pretty good return for a marketing-rights swap.
His *signature* signature shoes
Like many famous basketball stars, LeBron has released a series of signature sneakers. During the COVID-19 shutdown, LeBron did an Instagram Live in which he shouted out some of his favorite signature Nike sneakers.
His first shoe, the Air Zoom Generation (aka LeBron 1, seen here in purple suede) made his short list, as did the LeBron 7s, 8s and 15s. He mentioned that he thought the Lebron 4 sneaker design was ahead of its time — people like them more now than they did in 2007.
Believe it or not, this prolific in-game dunker has never participated in the annual dunk contest at the NBA's All-Star festivities.
Through the years, James has expressed regret over having not participated, but, as he told former teammate Dwyane Wade in 2015, "At this point, I'm over the hill now." We'll have to settle for seeing LeBron dunk on the young guys while the game clock is running.
Putting the heat on Houston
In May 2020, Uninterrupted — James' digital video company — announced that it would produce a docuseries exploring the Astros sign-stealing scandal that came to light following their 2017 World Series victory over the Dodgers.
The project was put on ice indefinitely after Quibi, the platform the series was to air on, shut down in December 2020.
Irate and uncontrollable
James also tweeted about the baseball scandal: "Listen I know I don’t play baseball but I am in sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be [expletive] irate!"
"I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do!" He called on baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, "Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today ... Literally the ball is in your court (or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports!"
A hero turned teammate
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant met for the first time in 2002, when LeBron was a high school junior and Kobe was already a hero in the league. As the story goes, Bryant brought the young phenom a pair of sneakers that were a size too small. James wore them anyway. Like Bryant before him, LeBron jumped straight from high school to the NBA. Both players came into the league with a swagger generally reserved for established stars.
They won two Olympic gold medals as teammates, in 2008 and 2012. And, according to Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim (he was an assistant coach for the Olympic squad), Kobe's tenacity in practice and his focus on defense had a big impact on LeBron's game.
One final message
On Saturday January 25, 2020, James passed Bryant on the NBA all-time scorer list. After the game against the 76ers, LeBron said, “The story doesn’t make sense. Make a long story short, now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from.”
The very next morning, Kobe and eight others, including 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, died in a helicopter crash. Bryant's final tweet said, "Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644".
Basketballs: Round. Earth: Flat?
If you were paying attention to the NBA in 2017, you've at least heard about the Kyrie Irving flat-Earth saga. On multiple occasions, Irving shared his planetary science shower thoughts with the media.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, among others, said Irving was just pushing reporters' buttons, "Kyrie and I went to the same college (Duke),” Silver said, "In all seriousness ... he was trying to be provocative and I think it was effective." But what does that have to do with LeBron? Keep going to find out.
Flat Earth? Fine by him.
Naturally, the media wanted the king's take on the shape of the planet. Reporters asked James about Irving's musings at the 2017 All-Star weekend.
"Kyrie is my little brother. If he decides the earth is flat, that’s ok,” James said. James then interrupted his own interview, still on the mic, to ask Irving to confirm that the Earth is indeed flat. Irving said, "yeah!" LeBron echoed, "yeah!"
LeBron's secret to success
We promised we'd tell you LeBron's secret to success, and we've finally reached the end, so here it goes. It's very simple. In a 2019 interview for Uninterrupted, he said, "We keep the main thing the main thing... and the main thing is basketball."
He elaborated on that mantra, saying if he had been drafted No. 1 and then become entitled or complacent, he would not be where he is today.