LeBron once comforted future WVU guard after high school loss to James' alma mater
LeBron told Juwan Staten to let the loss fuel the rest of his career
Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has received some extra attention for giving his arm sleeve to a young fan sitting courtside during Tuesday night's 129-107 win over the Phoenix Suns. The fan held a sign that said, "King James. You are more than an athlete. #NeverShutUp."
This is just one example of James inspiring young fans as the most recognizable face in basketball over the past decade, and a Reddit user took the opportunity to reveal an old story about LeBron's role in shaping the youth. The user, whose handle is GoX14, recounted a moment following the 2009 Ohio high school state championship game between James' alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary's and Thurgood Marshall. Via Reddit:
Kind of random, but today's post of LeBron sharing his arm sleeve with the kid in Phoenix reminded me of something he did, which not many other people got to witness:
In 2009, St. Vincent-St. Mary (LeBron's Alma Mater) was playing Thurgood Marshall for the DII Ohio State Championship. I was in the stadium watching as a recent StVM alum, and LeBron was sitting immediately behind the StVM bench, serving essentially as a coach, which is something he did often and still does for StVM and for the Cavs.
StVM ultimately won a nail-biter of a game, which featured 7 ties and 8 lead changes. Neither team ever led by more than 7 points. When the game concluded, LeBron stepped onto the court and briefly congratulated his team. Next, though, he walked to the Thurgood Marshall bench, grabbed their standout player by his jersey, and nearly dragged him to center court.
This kid, Juwan Staten, a Junior, played the entire game and dropped 28 of his team's 53 total points. He was 11-21 (4-7 from outside) and added 2 points from the free throw line. Juwan's face at center court, as he looked up in tears at the world's best basketball player is something that I'll always remember well. Here's a picture of the moment.
In an interview, Juwan shared what LeBron said: "He grabbed me close. He told me that he lost a state final his junior year. He told me I was a special player and to keep my head up. He told me to remember the moment for the rest of my life. He told me to let that drive me for the rest of my life, never to feel like that again"
Juwan went on to an impressive college career at Dayton and WVU, making the A10 All-Rookie team, Big12 All-Defensive team, and achieving Big12 First-Team honors, twice.
TLDR; Even a decade ago, LeBron knew that his position could have a big impact on a kid who deserved recognition. Even as a bystander, it was cool to watch.
Staten went on to play in the NBADL in 2015 and 2016, and took home Finnish League Foreign MVP honors for the Salon Viilpas Vikings in 2017.
This story just highlights how James and other professional athletes use their influence to inspire young people, even when the cameras aren't rolling.
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