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Health & Parenting

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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.

LeBron James and the Shooting Stars continued...

The family welcomed James into their home, where he lived for a year, seeing his mother on weekends. The discipline -- he did his first chores there -- along with the stability and the security of a settled family life: LeBron drank it all in.

"I loved being there," he writes. "I loved being part of the flow that is a family." That year he did not miss a single day of school. And that was also the year he started playing basketball.

Walker, still his football coach, asked him to join another team he was coaching, the Summit Lake Community Center Hornets. It was the first basketball team LeBron played for. He stayed with the Hornets a year, and during that time he moved back home, into a two-bedroom apartment his mother rented with help from a government assistance program. They had enough to get by, and James lived with her until he finished high school. Meanwhile, his extended family of friends and mentors kept growing. None was more important to him than Dru Joyce II.

Joyce was putting together a traveling team, the Shooting Stars, and he approached James about joining. Soon, the team included James, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee, and Joyce's son, Dru Joyce III, better known as Little Dru. Under Coach Dru's tutelage, they played together through eighth grade, going all the way to the Amateur Athletic Union nationals in Orlando, Fla. By then, James was already 6 feet 2 inches tall (he's since grown another 6 inches) and could dunk the ball. It was almost enough. They lost by two points in the final game.

The boys and their coach stayed together through high school at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James and company became known as the Fab Four (later the Fab Five, with the addition of Romeo Travis). The story of that team, of that family, is told in the 2009 documentary More Than a Game. Here's a sampling of James' high school achievements: He led his team to the state championship in three of the four seasons he played. The Associated Press named him "Mr. Basketball" for the state of Ohio every year but his freshman year. When he was a junior, Sports Illustrated featured him on the cover, dubbing him "The Chosen One."

That was all before he graduated.

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