LeBron James struggled with sudden fame after appearing on Sports Illustrated’s cover as a 17-year-old and says he smoked marijuana in high school.
Those are two of the revelations in a book chronicling James’ rise from Ohio basketball prodigy to NBA superstar.
In Shooting Stars, written by James and co-author Buzz Bissinger, James said the SI cover and the media attention he and his high school teammates received was difficult to handle.
“We had become big-headed jerks, me in particular, and we are to blame for that, but so are adults who treated us that way and then sat back and smugly watched the self-destruction,” James said.
In the book, scheduled for release in September, the NBA’s reigning MVP recounts the media circus that enveloped his final two years at St Vincent-St Mary High School following his SI cover appearance, which called him “The Chosen One.”
“I was arrogant, dubbing myself ‘The Chosen One,’” James said. “In hindsight, I should have kept quiet, but I also was what I was, a teenager where every reporter in the world seemed to be rushing toward me at once.”
James also revealed he and his teammates smoked marijuana one night after getting access to a hotel room in Akron, Ohio.
James feels he was unfairly targeted by the media, which he described as “excited spectators at a car crash” after it was learned that his mother, Gloria, obtained a loan to buy him a US$50,000 Hummer for his birthday. He said the scrutiny was humiliating for his mother.
“Was the vehicle excessive, with its bank of three televisions? Maybe. Probably. Of course it was,” James said. “So were the BMWs parked in the St V lot, belonging to fellow students. But nobody ever questioned those.”
James also recounts being suspended by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for accepting two jerseys as gifts from a Cleveland area clothing store. He describes the association as “ravenous” and is highly critical of former commissioner Clair Muscaro.
James said Muscaro, whose suspension of him was reduced in court, wanted to put James and his school “in our place.”