LeBron James has accomplished pretty much everything in the basketball world, but the superstar forward still appears to have a soft side to his hard-driven exterior. And nothing exemplified this more than an earlier incident when the Cleveland Cavaliers battled the Atlanta Hawks. James gazed up at the screens in the arena only to see a young boy in the crowd holding up a sign. What it said left the point-scoring phenomenon awestruck…
An unflappable machine
Usually, nothing could disrupt James' game-day concentration. His incredible skills on the court have won him stacks of awards, and he’s taken the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers all the way to the NBA championships. Through talent and dedication, basketball powerhouse LeBron James has become the NBA's all-time leading scorer. You'd think, then, that nothing could throw him off his game.
Destined to be the GOAT
Born in 1984, the Ohio native was always destined for success in his chosen field. Even as a freshman in high school, James garnered much admiration for his incredible point-scoring prowess. He became the first sophomore to receive a place in USA Today’s All-USA First Team. And that was only the beginning of his dominance in the sport.
After receiving plaudits for being the Parade magazine High School Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year, James quickly ascended to the top flight of basketball. He was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003, right out of high school. Yet it didn’t take James long to prove his worth in the upper echelons of basketball.
A record-setting behemoth
Not only did the star become the first ever Cavaliers player to pick up the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in the 2003-2004 season, but he also set a new record for the youngest player to ever scoop the prize. He was just 20 years old when he won it. Since those record-breaking feats, the skilled forward has only gone from strength to strength in the NBA.
When James moved to the Miami Heat in 2010, he alienated some of his Cavaliers fans in the process. Part of the problem was probably that James announced his intention to take his "talents to South Beach" in a live ABC show called The Decision. But James was intent on winning a championship. And in 2012, he did just that.
King of Cleveland
James won a second championship with the Miami Heat, before returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers — ultimately leading them to their first-ever championship in 2016. The slam-dunk machine was also chosen as the MVP of the NBA Finals, cementing his love for the team in the process. James was clearly overjoyed with his achievement — and so was one young man in particular.
The return of the King
“I came back to bring a championship to our city,” he said. “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.”
A welcome distraction
In November 2017, however, James was taken aback by a rather different, non-sporting-related incident. As he was prepping himself during the warmup for a game against the Atlanta Hawks, he caught a glimpse of the Jumbotron. It showed a boy in the stands holding a sign.
The sign read, “My last chemo is Thursday. I’m here to celebrate. #CamStrong.” It just so happened that the young boy there to watch his favorite team was battling leukemia. That week, he was scheduled to undergo his last chemotherapy treatment.
A standing O
The touching moment was caught by the cameras, eliciting a standing ovation from fans attending the game. Once the players caught wind of it, they proceeded to applaud as well — including LeBron James. The star looked moved as he showed his support for the brave Cavaliers fan.
A new perspective
The emotionally-charged occasion put everything into perspective. The boy had made an hour-long journey to see his favorite NBA stars take to the court, despite the very serious issues that he was having to contend with. And it turned out the defiant kid’s appearance at the game marked the end of a long and grueling battle.
Putting the past to rest
This trip to Cleveland wasn’t one of worry and concern; this time it was all about celebration and fun. That’s because Cameron Jaros was more used to schlepping to Cleveland for treatments and checkups. Jaros was diagnosed with Acute B ALL Leukemia when he was just 12 years old.
The start of a long journey
The seventh-grader from Austintown, Ohio, was taken to the doctor in May 2017 after he began suffering from headaches. After finding a lump on his head, tests were conducted on the young boy. His mother was contacted soon after to inform her that her son had cancer.
The news proved to be devastating for the whole family, with those most concerned setting up a GoFundMe page so that people could help pay for his treatments. But even in the face of such adversity, Jaros proved himself a fighter and a caring kid to boot.
A big heart
Part of his GoFundMe story reads, “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.”
Clap heard around the world
Displaying such bravery, it was only right that Jaros received an ovation at the basketball game. He spoke to local TV station WKBN about that November night. “It made me… I was shocked at first. Then I kind of cried a little bit,” he said. “Not a lot of people can say LeBron James clapped for me or something like that.”
A long road
His GoFundMe page went on, “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.”
Thankfully, Jaros is doing much better now. Since his appearance at the Cavaliers-Hawks game went viral, he is now officially cancer-free. His final chemotherapy treatment was a success, and the leukemia is in remission. It’s proved a happy ending to his six-month nightmare. And there was more good news to follow.
A rare turn of events
In an odd turn of good fortune, Jaros was later informed that he had Berkitts Leukemia and not Acute B ALL Leukemia. So it turned out that he had a rarer form of the disease — but one with a higher survival rate. It also meant that he’d only need to undergo six months of chemotherapy, rather than three and a half years.
And Jaros was more determined than ever to finally say good riddance to his cancer. Asked about his CamStrong hashtag, he told WKBN, “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.” With LeBron being heavily involved in his charity work, especially his work with kids, it's no surprise that he took a bold stand to support Jaros.
Getting kids to college
LeBron, along with his wife of almost two decades, Savannah have their own charity focusing on education in their hometown, Akron. This includes the LeBron James Family Foundation, which helps youngsters make the best of school. In 2015 the organization linked up with the University of Akron to spend $41 million to send kids to college. The cause is particularly close to the pair’s hearts, too.
“Never give up”
Savannah told fashion magazine Vogue in 2017 about the couple’s beliefs. She 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.”
And she would know. LeBron and Savannah James — née Brinson — have been a team for a long time. They met during high school, although they didn’t attend the same school. In fact, Savannah’s school was a couple of miles away from LeBron’s. So when she first saw him, she was clueless about who he was despite his growing fame as a ballplayer.
Then, when LeBron saw Savannah at a football game, he desperately wanted to know her. So he got her number from a friend and invited her to watch him play a game. She was astonished by his talent, as she told Harper’s Bazaar, “I went, and I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is pretty popular in here.’”
Sealing their fate
So it’s little wonder that Savannah decided that she wanted to know more about the high school superstar. Soon, they were talking on the phone and that led to a date. Yes, the pair dined at Outback Steakhouse. The night of their date, they didn't chat about anything special. It's what came afterward that sealed their fate.
After dropping Savannah home, LeBron noticed that she’d forgotten her leftovers. But that wasn’t a problem — LeBron showed a penchant for gallantry by going back to the restaurant to collect her food. She’d later say, “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 years old and expecting
But perhaps, as some suggested, Savannah had purposely left the box behind. Well, if she did, the ploy worked, and the two became inseparable. And soon after, Savannah was pregnant with what would be their first child, LeBron Jr. That wasn’t ideal for a 17-year-old girl, but LeBron stood up for her. And a few years later, she had another son, Bryce.
Waiting on a question
Yet the couple dated for roughly ten years before LeBron finally decided to make Savannah his wife. But this turn of events had been a foregone conclusion for some time — he’d 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 clock strikes 12
So as the clock ticked over to 2012, LeBron knelt and popped the question. Unsurprisingly for a big earning player, he offered her quite a stunning ring to mark the engagement. The platinum band showcased a huge diamond, creating old-school jewelry the likes of which Us Weekly expert Michael O’Connor claimed hadn’t been seen in a half-century. It’s thought to have set LeBron back a cool $300,000.
“Gimme the ring, or it might never happen!”
Before the big moment, though, LeBron asked friend Dwyane Wade to keep the ring so that Savannah didn’t accidentally discover his plans. When he told Wade that the time had come, his fellow basketball player asked if he was certain. Humorously, LeBron responded along the lines of, “Gimme the ring, or it might never happen!”
An agonizing wait
The nerves certainly gripped LeBron. As he explained to Oprah, “It felt like a finals game.” He added, “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.’” And given that they had a solid romance, Savannah was happy to say yes.
No cameras allowed
So in September 2013 LeBron and Savannah got hitched in a three-day bash in San Diego, California. However, they kept the wedding quiet, and it’s said that guests weren’t allowed to bring their cameras or phones. But one thing that we can be certain of, given LeBron’s reputation for enjoying a party, is that it was an extravaganza.
Yet even the invite to the celebration that LeBron sent out gave no clue as to where the wedding was. In fact, guests had to call a provided number to get details about the location of the “Welcome Barbeque” or the “Farewell Brunch.” And Preston Bailey, a wedding planner to the stars, made sure that the occasion remained private, according to website The Sportster.
A star-studded guest list
Even so, the actual wedding — held at the Fairmont Grand del Mar hotel in San Diego — had some stellar invitees. Some were basketball players, such as Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. But perhaps topping them were Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who serenaded the guests with “Crazy in Love,” reported The Sportster.
The boss at home
Now that they’re married, though, the pair have the serious work of bringing up three kids. Mind you, that’s a job LeBron has largely left Savannah in charge of. 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.”
So the James household is arguably not too dissimilar to LeBron’s when he was growing up. You see, his mom, Gloria, largely brought LeBron up on her own. Then, aged nine, LeBron moved in with local football coach Frank Walker, who gave him his first taste of basketball. And by the time he’d gotten to fifth grade, LeBron was playing in a team. It was clear from the beginning that LeBron was a star on the court.
Breaking the mold
Shocking some people in Akron, LeBron went to St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which was largely white. And soon the school’s team, The Fighting Irish, needed a bigger arena because so many people wanted to see him play. Among the many who flocked to see the burgeoning star were scouts, who enjoyed LeBron’s stellar performances.
The awards come rolling in
And in 2003’s NBA draft, LeBron was the first player chosen by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the nearest team to his hometown. The star immediately began to fulfill his hype, scoring 25 points on his debut. He would also be voted Rookie of the Year in his first year and later become Most Valuable Player (MVP) twice.
A life-changing decision made live on-air
But in 2010 LeBron entered free agency and decided it was time to move on. And he made his choice of Miami Heat for his next team during a televised show called The Decision. The show made millions for charity, particularly for the Boys & Girls Club at Greenwich, Connecticut, which hosted the special.
Sign on the dotted line
So it came as a shock when LeBron suddenly decided to leave Cleveland behind in July 2010. That year, he became a free agent and signed on the dotted line with Miami Heat. Although LeBron was exuberant about his move, the sentiment wasn’t shared by many. In fact, LeBron entered the 2010-11 season in the role of villain.
Burning their jerseys
Savannah had something to say about the outrage that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans expressed over LeBron switching to Miami, too. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “You have fans and you think they’re going to roll with you no matter what, and then they burn your jersey? It’s unfair. But they did it. It’s over.” She stuck by LeBron even when people questioned his loyalty not only to his first team, but to Savannah herself.
A test of trust
You see, Savannah stayed in Ohio when LeBron went to Miami to play for the Heat. Though some people questioned their long-distance relationship at this time, Savannah completely trusted the basketball star. Her mom, Jennifer, explained that no one expected LeBron to get up to anything naughty while away from home. She said, “If LeBron was going to do something shady, he can do that around the corner. He doesn’t have to go to Miami.”
Win after win
Sure enough, LeBron soon proved himself as a trusted leader — to his family, and to his fans. For the Heat, LeBron was definitely a hero. In 2012, you see, he took the team all the way to a ring, as he starred in the Finals against Oklahoma City Thunder. Then LeBron took MVP, and he won it again in 2013 when the Heat backed up against the San Antonio Spurs. Soon after, he made a triumphant return to his two greatest loves...
The worst team in the NBA
In 2014, LeBron went back to Ohio and to Savannah — and to the Cavaliers, by then the worst team in the NBA. They didn’t stay bad for long, however, as the star inspired them to reach the Finals in 2015 — although they couldn’t overcome the Golden State Warriors. And in 2016 the Cavaliers went one better, becoming the first champion in pro sports from Cleveland in a half-century.
The girl who changed everything
Of course, LeBron's greatest accomplishments may have happened off the court: In 2014 the couple welcomed their daughter Zhuri. LeBron told USA Today what having a girl meant to him in 2018. He said, “Three years ago, this bright spot right here happened to our family. And not only did she change me, she’s made me a better person. A more dedicated person, a stronger person... I realized that I have so much more of a responsibility to women in general.”
LeBron has made it clear to Savannah what she means to him as well. And her birthdays provide the perfect occasions. For instance, LeBron put on a glamorous party for her 30th before topping the gesture with a new Ferrari. He wrote about it on social media, “Took me a long time to find your masterpiece, but I wouldn’t stop until I did, and now I can’t wait to watch u cruise off into the sunset.”
Wedding anniversaries provided LeBron with chances to show his love even more. On their fifth anniversary, for instance, he surprised Savannah in their own home. Unbelievably, singer Daniel Caesar performed his smash hit “Best Part” just for her. LeBron posted about it on Instagram, writing, “Happy Anniversary!!! Love you forever.”
“Real men cry”
So it turns out that LeBron’s a man who’s not scared to show his feelings every now and then. In fact, in 2016 he was in tears after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals. Although the internet wasn’t kind, dubbing him “crying LeBron,” the star had the perfect answer. Yes, he hit back, “Real men cry” — before pointing out that he even had a good weep during The Lion King.
Struggling with his guilt
And one of the emotions that LeBron has expressed has been guilt. At one point, this led him to apologize to his wife. When she asked what he was sorry for, he said, “Because the journey that I’m on to want to be the greatest to ever play this game… I’ve at times lost the fact of how important you are to this whole thing. I want you to understand that along this journey... there will be times that I lose the fact of how important you and my three kids are — my babies are."
An outburst of emotion
So having painted this picture of a very sensitive man in love with his woman, we perhaps shouldn’t have been surprised by an outburst of worship on Facebook in November 2019. Still, it was a moment where LeBron’s admiration overflowed into a truly sentimental message to Savannah.
A shoutout to Wonder Woman
LeBron wrote on Facebook, “The only reason why I can do what I do at the highest level both on and off the floor is because my best friend got my back regardless the outcome! I’m just the car, she’s the engine! Appreciate you Wonder Woman aka Queen @mrs_savannahrj.” And the response was overwhelmingly positive.
A true blessing
Singer Chris GQ Perry perhaps caught the vibe best when he posted in the comments section. Perry wrote, “When you have a good woman by your side who loves and supports you it’s truly a blessing my brother.” And Perry was just one of 99,000 people who reacted positively, as the post clocked up likes. 3,000 folks made comments, too.
But, digging deeper, it’s not the only time LeBron has expressed deep love and appreciation for Savannah online. For the 2019 post reflected what the superstar had had to say in 2013, when he was on his honeymoon. On that occasion, he shared with Instagram exactly how he felt about being married to Savannah.
The one worth living for
Back then LeBron wrote, “When u have someone that’s always there for you no matter the ups and downs in life, it makes it all worth living for! So happy to call u Mrs. Savannah James.” After that, more than 200,000 people queued up to like the Instagram post. LeBron has only continued to sing his wife's praises on social media...
The luckiest man alive
Come summer 2019, LeBron again took to Instagram to share his feelings. Captioning a photo of Savannah, he wrote, “Some got no luck and some got all the luck in the world. I definitely got lucky with you that for sure!” Amazingly, that was a message that more than a million users liked. And in 2022, he wrote a heartfelt letter to his "Queen" on Instagram.
"Simply just letting you know that I appreciate you more than this world has to offer!" he began. He thanked Savannah for almost supporting him and never leaving his side, even when things got tough. "All I need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend aka best friend aka wife!" Looks like a slam dunk to us!