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    21 Things About LeBron James That Will Surprise You

    LeBron James might be one of the most thoroughly covered athletes in the history of sport. But you still probably don't know all these facts about him.

    1. LeBron was an All-State wide-receiver in high school.

    View this video on YouTube

    LeBron played football until his junior year of high school, when he broke his non-shooting hand and decided to concentrate solely on basketball. He later joked about this with a State Farm commercial in which he dons Cleveland Browns gear and plays for the team.

    2. LeBron's mother, Gloria, had him when she was 16.

    Jeffrey Boan / AP

    Since then, Gloria has been a prominent part of LeBron's narrative. He and his mom moved 12 times when he was between the ages of 5 and 8, and his dad left the family at birth. In fourth grade, he says he missed over 100 days of school. Eventually, though, Gloria got the family settled. Much farther into LeBron's career, Gloria was arrested after an altercation with a Fontainebleau hotel valet in Miami in 2011. And of course, there was that Delonte West rumor.

    3. LeBron's surrogate father, Eddie Jackson, spent three years in jail for cocaine trafficking charges.


    Jackson's on the left. LeBron calls Jackson "dad," and he's never met his biological father.

    4. LeBron unsuccessfully petitioned to be allowed to declare for the NBA Draft after his junior year of high school.

    Everyone knew he was going pro after his senior year, but LeBron still claimed to be considering Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio State and Louisville.

    5. During his senior year, tickets to St. Vincent — St. Mary games he was playing in would routinely go for $100-$120.

    6. LeBron became friends with Jay-Z around the same time that Kanye West did.

    RICK SCUTERI / Reuters

    By the time Sports Illustrated's "The Chosen One" profile came out in 2002, LeBron was already friends with Jay-Z. Kanye first worked with Jay-Z on 2000's The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, and extensively on 2001's The Blueprint.

    7. During the Wizards — Cavs series in 2008, DeShawn Stevenson called LeBron James "overrated." Jay-Z actually recorded a DeShawn Stevenson diss track in defense of LeBron.

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    8. LeBron's a part-owner of English Premier League club Liverpool FC.

    PHIL NOBLE / Reuters

    9. In high school, LeBron was part of a group that called themselves the "Fab Four." They passed over mostly black Akron school Buchtel to attend St. Vincent — St. Mary, which made them cover their tattoos during games.

    10. LeBron donated $20,000 to Barack Obama's campaign in 2008.

    KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

    11. Despite growing up in Ohio, LeBron is a Yankees, Bulls, and Cowboys fan.

    This created a minor controversy in 2007, when the Indians played the Yankees in the American League Conference Series. (LeBron was still with the Cavs then.)

    12. Even though "The Decision" was a widely reviled event, it produced $2.5 million in charity for the Boys & Girls Club of America.

    Larry Busacca / Getty Images

    Also, apparently Kanye West was there? ^^^^^^^^

    13. When LeBron left Cleveland for Miami, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who also plays a role in the company that produces Fatheads, cut the price of LeBron's fathead to $17.41 — the year of Benedict Arnold's birth.

    Tony Dejak / AP

    14. LeBron has a sordid Olympics past.

    Although it's been whitewashed because of his gold medal in 2008, LeBron played on the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team — known as the "Nightmare Team." They were the only U.S. squad to fail to win gold at the Olympics since NBA players started participating in 1992.

    Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski also reported that LeBron was almost left off the 2008 Olympics team because "the issue of James’ immaturity and downright disrespectfulness had become a consuming topic on the march to the Olympics. ... No one could stand James as a 19-year-old in the 2004 Athens Olympics, nor the 2006 World Championships. Officials feared James could become the instigator of everything they wanted to rid themselves for the ’08 Olympics. For as gifted as James was, Krzyzewski and Colangelo subscribed to a belief that with Kobe Bryant joining the national team in 2007, they could win a gold medal in ’08 with or without LeBron James."

    15. LeBron was good friends with disgraced Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.


    "He joked Tuesday that he just might have made the right choice by dropping football for good a few years back. Especially now that he's seen his friend, Maurice Clarett, go to court in an effort to enter the NFL early.

    'I could have made it to the NFL,' James said. 'But I probably would have come in with Maurice and been sent back to college.'"

    16. A Vogue cover with LeBron in a King Kong-esque pose set off a storm of racial controversy.

    LeBron mostly deflected the discussion of race with regard to the Vogue cover, as he has his whole career, until blaming racism for part of the reason why "The Decision" was so heavily criticized.

    17. LeBron is the youngest Rookie of the Year ever. He's also the youngest player to ever break 40 points in a game and to be named to an All-NBA team. And no prep-to-pro player has ever scored more in his first NBA game.

    18. Two controversies almost derailed LeBron's high-school eligibility: he accepted a $50,000 Hummer — his mother took out a loan to buy it — and he accepted two vintage jerseys in exchange for a photograph.

    19. LeBron's a basketball history buff.

    Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

    Apparently, LeBron's a well-known student of the game's history, and he really wanted to see Glory Road, the film that documented the 1966 Western Texas team that won the NCAA Championship with an all-black starting five. ESPN the Magazine arranged for a private screening, and afterward he met a number of the players from the team.

    20. During his second return trip to Cleveland, LeBron didn't come out during the Heat's pre-game introductions. He claimed he was in the bathroom.

    Mark Duncan / AP

    21. LeBron's in the Illuminati.

    Just kidding. MAYBE.