It's a story sure to become part of family lore--told at our gatherings over turkeys and hams, passed down through generations. The story of LeBron James. Not the story of "The King" himself, but the story of my wife's feedback after hearing his story.
On a snowy New Years Day, we sat down as a family to watch More Than A Game, a fantastic documentary about LeBron James and his fabulous high school career in Akron.
As the final clip rolled, the screen displayed that LeBron never attended college and had found "seasonal" work. Upon reading this, my wife said, "It's so sad that this LeBron guy didn't do anything after high school."
You've got to be kidding me.
No honey, LeBron does not have a summer landscaping gig, and I'm guessing he doesn't find winter hours salting and plowing driveways in the greater Akron area.
Needless to say, I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce some "LeBron" books that I have in my library. I think you may be surprised how good(and valuable) his backstory is, and how a great man/coach like Dru Joyce II can push someone towards greatness.
More Than a Game This movie essentially traces LeBron's grade school and high school career. His St. V's prep team may be the best high school basketball team ever. From tough and humble beginnings, LeBron, along with his boyhood friends, embarked on a journey that would take them from local fame to national acclaim. With inspiring coach Dru Joyce's guidance, the great "Akron 5" rewrote Ohio basketball history and became national champs. The movie does a great job documenting the road to greatness, and all the trials and tribulations that go along with it. It's actually a quite remarkable story, and I'm guessing probably unknown to many people outside Ohio. Whether or not you like (or even know of!) LeBron, you will find this story worthy of attention. It's an entertaining and heartening tale.
Shooting Stars by leBron James and Buzz Bissinger is basically a book version of the movie and covers the same time period from LeBron's youth AAU team called the Shooting Stars to his championship high school squad.
Beyond Championships by Dru Joyce. Joyce is LeBron's basketball coach in his grade school AAU years, and also becomes his high school coach for the junior and senior years. I have to admit that when I first saw Joyce's book, I though it was another attempt by a person associated with LeBron to cash in on the association. I was wrong. If you watch More Than a Game or read Shooting Stars, you will see that Coach Joyce went through the grinder with these guys. After experiencing his story, I have a ton of respect for him as a person and coach. The fact that Joyce's son was one of the stars and all of the guys are like an adopted family creates a huge tension within role and authority. Joyce handles everything with grace, and his accomplishments have earned him a voice that should be respected. Also note that he has a teenage version of this book--kind of a players guide that highlights the need to develop young men not only as players, but as solid individuals.
Read a few of these books and you might have a greater appreciation for LeBron's story. These books should be in every high school and public library, and would make great reading for a teenage boy, father, male role model, or coach. Oh.....and my wife.