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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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LeBron's Childhood continued...

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.'"

Her sacrifice was the foundation for his survival. When he was 9 years old, Gloria James realized she could not give her son what he needed most -- the grounding of a family. Along with her two brothers, she had been raised in a full house, cared for by her mother and grandparents and surrounded by an extended family of friends and neighbors. It's where she got her own values, and she wanted the same for her son. That, she came to realize, meant putting him into someone else's hands.

"It was the hardest decision I'd made in my life," says Gloria, now 42. "But it was also one of the best. At that time in his life, he needed stability. It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about him. I had to put him first."

LeBron James and the Shooting Stars

And so James went to live with Frank and Pam Walker in their three-bedroom Akron home. At the time, Frank Walker ("Big Frank") was coaching the boy's peewee football team, the South Rangers. He saw potential in the newly minted fifth-grader, but more important, he saw need. This was a child who appeared older than his years, a boy missing out on the joys of childhood. "The Walkers were also concerned that I was being passed from place to place, that I was a nomad at the age of 9," James writes in Shooting Stars.

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