LeBron James may be one of the most famous athletes in the world, but he has not forgotten his mom, Gloria James. His dad, Anthony McClelland, is a different story as the NBA player has no relationship with his father. LeBron credits his mother for raising him as a single parent.
In a letter LeBron wrote to his mother on The Today Show, LeBron explained he went to live with his football coach, “Big Frankie” Walker, as his mother tried to get back on her feet financially. Once Gloria was able to rent an apartment, LeBron moved back in with his mother. LeBron detailed some of their financial struggles to The Today Show.
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.
LeBron admits his father’s absence gave him motivation to succeed. There is very little information about LeBron’s father, aside from a 2002 ESPN the Magazine article which calls Anthony his dad. He spoke about their lack of a relationship in an interview with GQ.
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?
Learn more about LeBron’s parents, Gloria and Anthony.
1. LeBron Used to Give His Mom Cards on Father’s Day
LeBron has been open about the impact of growing up without a father. While it has been difficult, LeBron noted that the experience helped him appreciate his mother even more.
“It was tough, man,” James explained to Cleveland.com. “It was tough at times, but my mom, she kept it so real. She was like my mother and my father at the same time. When I was growing up at times, on Father’s Day, I would write my mother a card, wishing her Happy Father’s Day. She was all I had.”
Later in the same interview, LeBron admitted to being the “man of the house” at eight years old. LeBron explained what it was like to grow up faster than other kids.
“I think when I came kind of became the man of the house I started getting really responsible at the age of 8,” LeBron told Cleveland.com. “I had to be there and do things that probably a father would do. Obviously not to that magnitude because I wasn’t a grownup and I didn’t have responsibilities, but I had to handle myself and make sure I wasn’t a problem to my mother so she didn’t have to have extra things going on in her head, because she had a lot on her plate already.”
2. LeBron’s Mom Helped Him Cheat to Pass 4th Grade
Not only did Gloria play the role of single mom, she also helped LeBron pass the fourth grade when he was in danger of failing. According to USA Today, LeBron had missed 82 days of school, and his teacher handed him a stack of papers to complete to attempt to salvage a passing grade. LeBron explained how his mom split the duties with him on the Road Trippin’ (via USA Today) podcast.
Me and my mom went to school one day in the spring time, and my teacher was like, ‘Your son applies himself so much when he’s here, but he’s never here.’ So my mom said, ‘What can we do so my son doesn’t fail? I don’t want my son to feel like he’s a failure.’
My teacher at the time, I’m sorry I don’t remember your name, she gave us a stack, and I wish the listeners could see the stack of papers she said, ‘If your son can finish this stack of extra credit, we’ll pass him.’
This how G my momma is. Me and my momma went home, split the extra credit papers. She did half and I did half. We turned that s— in, and they passed me. That’s why my momma a G to this day.
Without sport, I would’ve been done. Sports saved my life because the streets is so intriguing. What people don’t understand, it’s so intriguing, you don’t understand.
3. LeBron Does Not Have a Relationship With His Father
ESPN the Magazine identified LeBron’s father as Anthony McClelland in a 2002 article published before LeBron started his NBA career. ESPN reported Gloria and Anthony’s relationship was casual, and Anthony was convicted of arson and theft. Anthony had been found guilty of theft five times, and tried to rekindle his relationship with his son in 2002. LeBron has maintained he has no relationship with his father. Here’s an excerpt from ESPN’s article detailing LeBron’s relationship with his father.
Her name is Gloria Marie James, and she’s a testy, diminutive woman with a serious set of lungs: “I’m loud, can’t help it.” She got pregnant at 16, and it’s been just her and her “Bron Bron” ever since. She says the father was a casual sex partner named Anthony McClelland, who by now is well-known within the state and county penal systems. He’s been convicted of arson and theft, to name just two of his many transgressions, and he certainly wasn’t the one to help Glo out of her monetary hardships…
The father resurfaces. It was inevitable, but Glo says LeBron’s biological dad wants back in. Problem is, McClelland has been found guilty of theft five times and just got arrested for theft again on Nov. 12. LeBron is vetoing any meetings. “I keep that somewhere far, far away,” he says.
4. Gloria’s Ex-Boyfriend, Lambo, Threatened to “Expose” LeBron
On July 26, 2017, Gloria’s ex-boyfriend, Miami area rapper Lambo (whose real name is Arthur Lambright), posted an Instagram video essentially calling out LeBron. The video has since been deleted, but Complex has the screen shots of the posts. Here’s a look at the caption of the original post.
#godspeed THE TRUTH SHELL SET U FREE,U! ARE ABOUT TO FEEL IT!!! ALL U DO IS THROW BRICKS AND HIDE YOUR HANDS S/O @kyrieirving FOR NOT FOLLOWING A Follower WHOS JUST GREAT ON THE COURT.
Things were even more serious a few days prior when Lambo called out LeBron for how he treats his wife, Savannah James.
#godspeed U!! Know the truth why we broke up! So should I tell the world the truth!!!, U SAW ME TREAT YOUR MOM LIKE A QUEEN, AND I SAW U TREAT YOUR WIFE LIKE A!!! DONT TRY AND MAKE THE WORLD THINK THAT LAMBO F—-D UP!! LET THE WORLD KNOW WHATS THE REAL F—-D UP PROBLEM IN THE FAMILY. @kingjames respect is due to a dog and you gonna respect LAMBO!!!!!! Cause I always respected u!! And since u love social media and couldn’t talk to me like a Man!!!!!!!! Made me go to social media
5. LeBron Admits to Crying During Will Smith’s Emotional Scene About His Father on Fresh Prince
There is one scene that is commonly referred to as the signature scene of the popular 1990’s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Will Smith’s character has a strained relationship with his father who abruptly cancels a planned trip. During an episode of the Road Trippin’ podcast, LeBron admitted to crying when he watches the scene.
“Every single time, I shed a tear,” LeBron said on the Road Trippin’ podcast (via My San Antonio). “It could come from obviously me being part of a single-parent household and never seeing my father and things growing up when I was a kid, but it’s just an emotional part.”
LeBron circled back to the topic about a year later by posting the clip on Twitter.
“I shed a tear or 2 every single time this episode comes on! Can’t help it??♂️. I’ve had that same feeling my whole life. #MommaThankYou,” LeBron tweeted.