In his latest interview for GQ, NBA 4-time MVP LeBron James shared how his father being absent made him the great player he is today.
In the course of discussing his triumphs and trials with Laskas, James offers the following thought on how the specific circumstances of his single-parent upbringing helped make him the man he is today:
One person he thanks for all his success is his father. Well, it’s not actually a thanks. More of a conversation. “Like, ‘Wow, Dad, you know what, I don’t know you, I have no idea who you are, but because of you is part of the reason who I am today.’ The fuel that I use—you not being there—it’s part of the reason I grew up to become who I am. It’s part of the reason why I want to be hands-on with my endeavors. And be able to put my guys that’s with me now in position. Like Maverick Carter, my right-hand guy in my business. Rich Paul, my agent. Randy Mims, my friend—he’s my manager, you know. So me in a position allowing people around me to grow, that maybe wouldn’t have happened if I had two parents, two sisters, a dog, and a picket fence, you know?”
James’ mother, Gloria James, told ESPN the Magazine‘s Tom Friend back in 2002 that LeBron’s father was “a casual sex partner named Anthony McClelland, who [has] been convicted of arson and theft, to name just two of his many transgressions.”
James wrote last month about the flip-side of growing up without a father — his relationship with and love for his mother — in a touching essay included in The Shriver Report, a nonprofit media project aimed at “inspiring conversations that modernize America’s relationship with women.”
My mother really struggled. She had me, her only child, when she was just 16 years old. She was on her own, so we lived in her mom’s great big house in Akron, Ohio. But on Christmas Day when I was 3 years old, my grandmother suddenly died of a heart attack, and everything changed. With my mom being so young and lacking any support and the skills and education necessary to get ahead, it was really hard for us.
We lost the house. We moved around from place to place—a dozen times in three years. It was scary. It was catch as catch can, scraping to get by. My mom worked anywhere and everywhere, trying to make ends meet. But through all of that, I knew one thing for sure: I had my mother to blanket me and to give me security. She was my mother, my father, my everything. She put me first. I knew that no matter what happened, nothing and nobody was more important to her than I was. I went without a lot of things, but never for one second did I feel unimportant or unloved.