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LeBron James Pays Homage to the Mothers in His Life

The NBA superstar credits his mother and his girlfriend for making him both the athlete and the family man he is today.
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WebMD Magazine - Feature

LeBrons James' mother, Gloria James, was 16 years old, just a girl, when she had her first and only child, a son. The boy's father was long gone, so he took his mom's last name. At first, she had her own mother to lean on, to turn to for help raising the boy. Then a heart attack stole her away on Christmas morning, when Gloria was 19. She would have to bring up LeBron James on her own. She did. And she brought him a mighty long way.

Now 25, the NBA superstar is one of the most celebrated players in the history of the sport. On Mother's Day -- and every other day -- he gives his mom all the credit for what he's become. He knows who he is because of her, and he feels this deeply. His awe for her leaves him a little tongue-tied. "I don't have the words, I can't sit here and explain," James says.

But after a short pause he goes on. "I had my mother to blanket me, to give me security. [When I was] growing up, she was my mother, my father, everything. To grow up in a single-parent household, to see what she could do all by herself, that gave me a lot of strength."

But Gloria is not the only mother he will be celebrating this Mother's Day. James shares his life with his high school sweetheart, Savannah Brinson, the mother of his two sons, LeBron Jr., 5, and Bryce Maximus, 2. "The important thing for me is to be with her and our sons. I know how important a mother is, and every day we are together is special to me.

"Being a mother -- it's the toughest job in the world. It's tougher than being a professional athlete or being the president. It's a powerful thing ... mothers should have more than one day," he says. For James, the moms in his life already do.

LeBron's Childhood

Gloria James gave birth to her son, LeBron, on Dec. 30, 1984. For the first few years of his life, they shared a large Victorian home in Akron, Ohio, that had been in the family for generations. In his autobiography, Shooting Stars, co-written by Buzz Bissinger, James recalls his mother's struggles to maintain the household on a tight budget. After her mother's death, it became a losing battle.

Eventually, the city condemned the house. Then they bulldozed it. James was 5.

For the next three years, James and his mother moved 12 times. He shuffled from school to school, where friendships began and ended every few months. In the fourth grade, he missed nearly a hundred days of school because he didn't have the means to get there. The one constant was his assurance that his mother was there for him. He writes, "Whatever my mom could do or could not do, I also knew that nobody was more important in her life than I was. You have no idea how much that means when you grow up without so many of the basic things you should have. You have no idea of the security it gives you, how it makes you think, 'Man, I can get through this. I can survive.'"

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