LeBron James has pretty much done it all throughout his NBA career. The superstar athlete has proven to be a legend on and off the court - especially when it comes to giving back to his loyal fans...
LeBron James, now known as number 6 for the Lakers, has been unstoppable since stepping foot on the court. The minute the game starts, James has full focus on the court, setting spectators outside of his tunnel vision.
With his incredible footwork and basketball skills, it is no surprise he has earned multiple awards. He has taken the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA championships. He is a basketball machine, and typically nothing can distract him on the court - that was, until one particular moment.
Where It All Started
The Lakers player was born and raised in Ohio, and 1984 was the year the world welcomed an incredibly talented basketball prodigy into the world. From a young age, people suspected a hidden talent - it was just a matter of time until it was put to use. While his height was a shoo-in already for the sport, he just had to prove his skills.
As a freshman in high school, James caught the immediate attention of sports coaches after scoring an unlimited amount of points on the court. He even became the first sophomore to be placed in USA Today's All-USA First Team. Now, that doesn't just happen to any sophomore. Who was this kid? Still, this was only the beginning.
The special mentions kept rolling in. Despite his size, it wasn't exactly difficult to notice his on-the-court action. He further received accreditation in Parade magazine High School Boy's Basketball Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year. But that's not all.
Of course, when there's this much talent, any path can be paved. For James, it didn't take long for him to make his way to the top of the basketball tier. He would shoot and score - again and again. Before he knew it, in 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers demanded him out of high school, and James proved his worth.
Rookie of the Year
Once he started playing for the Cleveland team, he became the first ever player to be awarded the NBA Rookie of the Year Award consecutively in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. It was like he had magic feet that moved across the court as if no one else was around. That being said, he had set a new all-time record.
The Ohio native became the youngest player to ever receive this award. That's the moment the Cavaliers took a step back and realized they had gold on their team. Not to mention, he was only 20 years old at the time. Since then, things were only moving forward and positively. He was making his way to the top, and nothing was in his way.
Understandably, James's skills made him in extreme demand. The Miami Heat wanted him and weren't planning on stopping until they secured James a slot on their team. Eventually, James agreed and made the switch. In 2010, he left the Cavaliers and even distanced himself from the fans. It wasn't his fault - he was now dedicated to the Heat.
When James commits to something, he doesn't take things lightly. However, he appeared on a live ABC show called The Decision and publicly announced his intentions to "take his talents to South Beach." Nothing was a secret, and his head was all in the game. He wanted to win the championships, so he did just that in 2012.
The King of Cleveland
Before we knew it, he won a second championship with the Miami team, coming in hot. And once James had accomplished just one of his dreams, he returned to the Cavaliers. He had the aim to maintain his NBA championship title. That being said, he took his Cleveland teammates to their first-ever championship in 2016.
He was a slam-dunk machine. Of course, considering his track record that was only just kicking off, he had been chosen as the MVP of the NBA Finals. His consistency on the court earned him this title. It wasn't easy, and he was overwhelmed, but one fan, in particular, expressed his appreciation for the player.
Putting His City on the Map
James explained in a live panel with NBC Sports, "I came back to bring a championship to our city." In his world, if he could play for every team, he would. Of course, not every team can go to the championships, so it was in his power to choose one at a time. And he knew exactly what he was doing.
He continued to tell NBC Sports, "I knew what I learned in the last couple years that I was gone, and I knew if I had to — when I came back — I knew I had the right ingredients and the right blueprint to help this franchise get back to a place that we've never been." He was going places.
Distracted by the Jumbotron
But just because he was an NBA champion didn't mean he had it all figured out. James had no idea what was in store for him in the future. On one particular occasion, he was warming up as usual before a big game against the Atlanta Hawks. It wasn't until he looked up at the Jumbotron that a special someone was in the stands.
James was used to seeing fan signs everywhere with his name or number on them. But this one was different. What he saw was something much more wholesome and immediately distracted him from the game. A young boy was holding up a sign with a remarkable personalized message. LeBron knew that he couldn't leave this sign unacknowledged.
As he looked up on the big screen, the camera had been pointed at an emotional young man holding up a sign that read, "My last chemo is Thursday. I'm here to celebrate #CamStrong." It was an overwhelming moment that took James by surprise. And although he had an intense 2.5 hours ahead of him, this distraction was worth it.
It turned out the young boy had been battling leukemia. The week of the Hawks game was the same week the boy was set to undergo his last chemotherapy treatment. The sign was covered in jersey numbers, giving a big shoutout to some of the players. James couldn't help but approach the situation.
Remarkably, the exact moment LeBron saw the sign was caught on camera. Viewers could see the NBA champion look up to the screen in amazement, applauding the young boy, who was the real hero in the arena. Not only was James taking notice of the boy, but the entire arena was cheering on the survivor.
Soon enough, all of the players, along with the entire arena, began to clap for the young boy. Everyone was moved by the situation and amazed by the strength of the basketball fan. He deserved more recognition. Despite the standing ovation, James knew there was more to be done.
A Fresh Perspective
That single standing ovation changed everything for the boy in the stands. The 7th grader from Austintown couldn't believe the response he got from the players and the audience. Not only did he devote his time to making the sign, but he drove an hour so that he could see his favorite NBA stars right before his eyes.
Though he was going through intense treatment, this was what mattered to him. He was living positively in the moment, setting everything aside, and he focused on watching this game live. Thankfully, it all worked out in his favor, as his appearance was the perfect way to celebrate the end of his brave battle.
Well, who was this brave fan? His name was Cameron Jaros, and this wasn't the first time he had made the big journey to Cleveland. It turns out most of his treatment and check-up appointments took place in Cleveland as well. So, he was pretty used to the hour-long drives. Although this time, the trip was a little different.
When Jaros was just 12 years old, he was diagnosed with Acute B ALL Leukemia. At that age, hearing news like this is never easy. But he took it like an absolute champ and powered through the entire diagnosis. He hauled back and forth from Cleveland whenever it was necessary, whether it was for medication or a basketball game.
It all started after Jaros began suffering from headaches. Only this was not like any average headache from stress or tiredness. He knew there was something more behind the pain. He then noticed a lump on his head, and that's when the lightbulb went off. He rushed straight to the doctor.
After running essential tests, the unfortunate news was broken to Jaros's mother, who was contacted about the results. She was informed of his diagnosis and had to re-inform the heartbreaking news to Jaros himself. No one prepares for something like this, but all Jaros did was battle through with bravery.
As anyone would be, the entire family was shaken up and devastated by the news. Not to mention, treatment does not come cheap. Thankfully, there are people in this world who reach out and show their devotion to situations as such. Those concerned decided to raise a GoFundMe page to raise money.
The whole family was eternally grateful. They couldn't believe that people could be so giving, willing to donate money to better someone else's life. The money would go toward all the treatments needed so Jaros could get better as soon as possible. Cam proved that he was a fighter which made the donations far easier.
An Emotional Message
Everyone has a story, but each one is unique. And they have a special power to influence people with their strength. Of course, when people visited the GoFundMe page, they had the chance to gain insight into the cause - and Jaros's text touched everyone's heart.
On his GoFundMe page, part of his story read, "Cameron, being the sweetheart that he is, was more worried about everyone else than what was going on with him. He is ready for the fight that's ahead of him with the love and support of all of his friends and family, both far and near." This only empowered visitors to help the brave teen.
Not before long, the GoFundMe page went viral. People were in awe of Cameron's courage. People all around the world were hearing his story, while others had the chance to see him on the big screen if they had attended the Hawks vs. Cavaliers game. After brief thought, he was instantly invited onto the local TV station WKBN that November.
When he appeared on the show, he was almost lost for words. He spoke out and told the presenters, "It made me… I was shocked at first. Then I kind of cried a little bit… Not a lot of people can say LeBron James clapped for me or something like that." It's true, not everyone can say Lebron James encouraged a standing ovation for them.
Road to Recovery
Considering his incredible journey and donation page, there was far more to say and write. His GoFundMe page continued to explain how Cameron experienced his diagnosis when it came about, and all of the things he was experiencing as a normal young teen. Unfortunately, his exciting and carefree years were put on pause.
It read, "Cameron is only 12 and just finished 6th grade at Austintown Middle School. He is a lover of all things Minion and Harry Potter! He is a big teddy bear of smiles and hugs! We know he is hoping to be able to come home soon to enjoy the summer months off, but he's in for a long road of chemo, treatments, and visits to Cleveland."
Where Is Cameron Now?
Despite treatment, a positive mentality is a huge part of recovery. Cameron could not have gone through his journey without worldwide support and high spirits. But he did it. Since his viral appearance on the Jumbotron, fans couldn't help but wonder: what happened to Cameron?
Sure enough, thanks to his positive mindset and the help of dedicated doctors, Cameron Jaros was finally cancer-free! His final chemotherapy session was successful, and the leukemia was in remission. He had finally gotten a happy ending to his six-month nightmare. However, that's not where this story ends.
A Shocking Development
In a remarkable turn of event, Jaros was later informed during remission that he didn't initially have Acute B ALL Leukemia, but another type called Berkitts Leukemia. Of course, he and his family were stunned - what did this mean, exactly?
The cancer diagnosis turned out to be a rarer kind but with a higher survival rate! And his chemo treatment time was significantly less now. Things were looking up. While he was in remission after 6 months of chemotherapy, he was finally done fighting. Cameron Jaros had seen it all - but not without a giant smile plastered on his face.
Not only was this positive news for Jaros, but it only encouraged him to fight harder. He even created the #CamStrong. And he wasn't the only one stunned by the outcome. "As Cameron's dad, I want to thank everyone for your support and prayers," Paul Jaros reflected 2 years later. "As of today I can happily say Cam is cancer free and strong as ever."
"He is getting ready to start HIS own basketball career as a 6'2" 8th grader. What the Cavs did for him was... beyond great. Thank you," he continued. When asked about the takeaway on WKBN, Cameron said, "Believe in yourself and don't give up. Even if you have no hope, just keep fighting. Even if you lose, just keep on fighting." Spoken like a true hero.
The Man Behind the Headlines
Throughout all the highs and lows, there was one man who helped share. Cameron's voice: The man on the court who went by the number 6, Mr. James. He's not just a hugely talented basketball player but a tall guy with a big heart, one that he wears on his sleeve.
Although, there is often that special someone to encourage and motivate one to be a better person. Sometimes, we don't get to acknowledge this person publicly. Whether they prefer to stay out of the spotlight or remain anonymous, there is often always someone to thank. For LeBron? He kept this one to himself for a long time...
High School Sweethearts
When it comes to romance, there are two routes that people take: oversharing and remaining private. For LeBron, his partner in crime, Savannah, was kept under the radar for certain purposes. Of course, she was used to seeing him in the spotlight, so she probably had the choice to stay out of it.
But Savannah and LeBron actually went way back: They were high school lovers. From the start, it was love at first sight. Although, ironically, she wasn't that into him at first. Of course, as time went on, she learned to love the 6'9" basketball prodigy, and they're still together today. But they never forgot where they came from.
Back to His Roots
Back in Akron, James's hometown, he wanted to give back, showing them where any kind of hard work would take them. But not without the help of his other half, Savannah. Whether he's talking about romance or basketball - or both - he's used his power to influence and encourage education.
The couple started the Lebron James Family Foundation, helping young students experience the best school can be. In 2015, the organization collaborated with the University of Akron, where $41 million was raised to send students to college. LeBron and his partner have a special place in their heart for the foundation.
"Never Give Up"
In 2017, Savannah spoke with Vogue fashion magazine. She expressed how she and her man felt about their foundation and how they encountered relatable situations growing up. But there was one thing always pushing them forward: as Sav put it, she specifically noted the element of never giving up.
Savannah said, "If there's nothing more you can do for a child, just constantly encourage them and set them on the right path when it comes to sports or their schoolwork or nurturing a hobby — with whatever it is. Just be a constant source of encouragement. That's what LeBron talks about – never give up."
Two Different Worlds
Speaking of never giving up, it seems LeBron has remembered this mentality his whole life. Although Savannah and LeBron have worked as a team for a long time, they haven't always been by each other's side. Yes, they met during high school, but we never said it was the same high school!
When it's true love, distance only makes the heart grow fonder. Although, Savannah's school was just a couple of miles away from the NBA star. He was probably shooting baskets to her with love notes. That being said, Savannah was completely in the dark about his sports reign at school. So, it was all about him and not the game.
Love at First Basket
It all started at a football game. The two lovebirds were in the stands, with no idea what was coming their way. It was only a matter of minutes until the two came face to face, but when James saw her in the crowd, he knew instantly that he had to know her. So, in the light of never giving up, LeBron shot a chance at love.
He scored Savannah's digits and invited her to watch him play a game. We're not saying it was his moves on the court that won her over, but it doesn't hurt to flex a little. Savannah couldn't believe his talent as she told Harper's Bazaar, "I went, and I was like, 'Wow, this guy is pretty popular in here.'"
Their First Date
After seeing him make one basket dunk after another, Savannah was impressed and intrigued. She wanted to know more about him - how he came to be the school legend that he was. So, digits were exchanged - and it was nothing but endless phone calls and conversation. They really hit it off.
As conversations continuously occurred, LeBron gave it another shot and asked her out on a date. Never give up, right? Of course, Savannah agreed, and the pair dined at Outback Steakhouse for their first date. That night, nothing major was discussed, just the casual first-date chat. But it was the aftermath that shook things up...
A Cheesy Gift
LeBron was a gentleman. He dropped Savannah home just to make sure he would be the last thing on her mind that night. It's all about the tactics. But, little did he know he would be seeing her sooner than they both thought. He noticed the little things, down to the last bite. That being said, Savannah had forgotten her leftovers!
He wasn't going to let this opportunity go to waste. He went back to the restaurant, picked up her to-go bag, and brought them back to her. Savannah later recalled with Harper's Bazaar, "I'd totally forgotten about them, and he brought them to me. I think he just wanted another excuse to come and see me."
17 & Expecting
Some might even say she left the box behind on purpose… Whether it is true or not, the rest was practically history. Who would have thought a box of sirloin leftovers would make two people completely inseparable? Although Savannah was just seventeen, she knew it was real, and one surprise made things official.
While it wasn't expected for the teen, Savannah fell pregnant and ultimately gave birth to LeBron Jr. Despite her age, the pair were in love, and LeBron Sr. stood by her side each step of the way. Clearly, things were meant to be as a few years later, another mini James came along - only this time, they named him Bryce!
10 Years Later...
The couple has been together blissfully for 10 years. Thankfully, that one steak dinner was all worth while. Of course, there is only so long someone can wait until they get down on one knee. It took 10 years for James to propose… what was he waiting for? That was the question that he continuously pondered over.
The simple answer is he just never asked. He told Oprah Winfrey, "I was like, 'This is the lady and the woman I have been with through all the good and all the bad. She's been there for a long time,' and I wanted her to continue to be there with me, so I felt like at that moment it was time."
The Big Question
In 2012 when the clock struck twelve, that was the moment LeBron knew it was now or never. He knelt down, popped the inevitable question, and opened up a ring box to nearly blind his fiancee-to-be. To keep things wholesome and nostalgic, James went old school on the ring, but that doesn't mean it was any less extravagant.
US Weekly expert, Michael O'Connor, commented on the ring. Not only was it unique, but far older than the both of them put together. O'Connor claimed he had not seen a diamond of that kind in over half a century - and all of a sudden, James had hold of it, which must have cost him at least $300,000! But love has no price.
It's Now or Never
After 10 years, James was given enough time to think the proposal through. It had to go perfectly, and nothing could disrupt this magical moment for either him or Savannah. With that being the case, he ensured that Savannah would not suspect a thing, which included keeping the ring in a safe space and out of sight.
So, to keep things safe, James gave the ring to his close friend Dwayne Wade to keep hold of it prior to the proposal. When the day came along, James went to Wade to ask for the ring. His friend turned him and asked if he was sure, to which James responded confidently yet humorously, "Gimme the ring, or it might never happen!"
Moment of Truth
No one can ever prepare how to feel before popping one of the biggest questions of a lifetime. Even LeBron James, the King on the court, who played multiple games in front of thousands of people, was shivering in his Air Force 1 sneakers. He recalled his nerves and the situation to Oprah Winfrey on her show.
He expressed, "It felt like a finals game… I had been thinking about it, you know, for a while, but it just came to me one day, and I was like, 'This is a part of growth for me.'" Despite the nerves, he should have had all the faith in the world that Savannah would have said yes - which she did. Then came the fun part...
No Cameras Allowed
It was September 2013. LeBron and Savannah were taking advantage of that 10 year relationship with a lavish 3-day wedding celebration that took place in San Diego, California. Despite the over-the-top party, it was ironically kept extremely under the radar. We could say James was respectful in keeping his wife out of the spotlight.
To keep things private, the newlyweds politely asked the guests not to bring any kind of camera or their phones. Now, while this was a moment we would all want to capture, for the sake of the couple, all guests complied. While we don't have any evidence, we can only imagine how hard they partied!
Top Secret Location
Not only were the guests not allowed to capture the iconic moment, but even when the invites were sent out, the location was not included in the text. Instead, a special number was provided in which guests would call to find out different hotspots of the 3-day celebration. At least they were being consistent!
When the guests called, they were informed of the events named "Welcome Barbeque" or "Farewell Brunch." Each disguised event would take them to one of the locations. They pulled it off pretty well and couldn't have done it without A-lister wedding planner Preston Bailey who helped maintain the private bash, according to The Sportster.
The secret locations and coded messages were cool, but to put everyone out of their misery, the real wedding took place at the Fairmont Grand del Mar hotel in San Diego. The location was grand enough, but it wouldn't be anything without their extremely lavish guest list! Of course, what else did we expect from a royal NBA wedding?
As expected, his fellow hoopers attended, such as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. But don't think the famous faces stopped there. In the light of love, the two people craziest about it, Mr. and Mrs. Carter, also made an appearance and even sang Crazy In Love to the newlyweds and the rest of the party, reported The Sportster.
King & His Queen
After the wedding, they knew things would be different. With LeBron constantly on the road, Savannah was left to raise the kids at home -but carried this role like an absolute boss. Despite her doing most of the work at home, James has established that they live under her roof.
He told Vogue, "I'm gone a lot, so she is the boss of the household; she’s the rule-setter. It’s hard for me to go on the road for two and a half weeks and then come home and tell my kids, 'Look, this is how it should be done' when she’s been home every day."
Taking It Home
Ironically, the James household is not that far off from how LeBron was brought up himself. He didn't have an entire family surrounding him during his upbringing. Instead, his mom started off raising him alone, but things soon took a turn, and he found somewhere else to go so he could be led in the right direction.
At the age of nine, James moved out of his homeland and left his mother, Gloria. He then moved in with his local football coach, Frank Walker, and James smelt the first essence of success. Walker introduced him to basketball, and James made the school team in the fifth grade. Though he had the right guidance, he would always be a star.
Breaking The Mold
Thankfully, James can now do this for his own children, only if they're interested, of course. Still, looking back at his past, he continued to shock the audience members who were given a chance to witness him play. He stood out in his school in Akron, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, for all the right reasons.
The school's basketball team was called The Fighting Irish, but all they were fighting for was to see LeBron play. Things got so intense, they even had to hire out a larger arena just so they could seat all the eager Irish fans and scouts who came to see the one and only, the King of Cleveland.
The Awards Come Rolling In
As mentioned, despite his instinctive talent, James worked his way to the top. He never gave up and was consistent in his efforts on the court. He was a team player, and considering his multiple and advantageous elements, LeBron was the first player chosen in the 2003 NBA draft to play for the Cavaliers, closest to his hometown.
In his basketball debut, he achieved 25 points, was voted Rookie of the Year in his first year of playing, and even a dual win as the MVP. Not only has LeBron proved his efforts for the love of basketball, his teammate, and wife, but he ensures to give back. He never forgot his roots or gave up - a legend on and off the court.
On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, LeBron proved just how much of a legend he truly is. After facing off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, King James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career scoring record. As the game came to a stop to honor a record that most never dreamed could be reached, James broke down in tears. "Everything just stopped," he recalled.
"It gave me an opportunity to embrace it and look around and seeing my family, the fans, my friends. It was pretty cool... I probably can count on my hands how many times I have cried in 20 years, either in happiness or in defeat. So that moment was one of them." With 38,390 career points, he left that game with a new title - but his story is still being written...