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 36, the NBA superstar is one of the most celebrated players in the history of the sport. 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. 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. “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.”