Ever wonder how LeBron got to be the gifted basketball god that he's become? Practice? Hard work? Coaching?
Presented below, without comment, is an email I received this week (Subject line: LeBron the "Christened One.") that explains the true origins of LeBron's talent.
My name is Rolando Pharr. I'm a 49 yr. old Cleveland Ohio resident. There’s an unknown chapter in the LeBron James story that has to be told. I waited until LeBron turned 25. Now I think he’s mature enough to understand the significance of the story I’m about to tell you. This story is about the divine powers of the Universe and how those powers can be influenced.
Growing up, my parents told me the story of when Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) visited our neighborhood. My mom took my sister and I to see him as he was hanging out on E.55th and Central Avenue in front of the old Majestic Hotel. Ali took me out of my moms arms, raised me in the air several times, put me on his shoulders and carried me around for the duration of his stop. I was touched by the future “Global Icon.” A local newspaper captured that moment in time.
Fast forward to around February 1985. I was the assistant manager at the Bottom Half clothing store inside Rolling Acres Mall in Akron. A young lady came in and asked if we were hiring. She introduced herself as Nikki. We weren't hiring at the time but I told her to check back periodically. Shortly thereafter, my manager developed a staph infection and was off for several weeks. During this time Nikki, who later revealed that her name was Gloria James, started visiting the store regularly, often times running store errands. Gloria would always talk about her baby boy LeBron, and would some times bring him to the store.
I was a member of Akron’s best adult male basketball team. We had won the Park and Recreation League the year before and always had a great squad. Our team was comprised of former Akron U. ballplayers and campus standouts. We called ourselves "Free Afrika.” On one memorable occasion, LeBron was sleeping, so I watched him while Gloria ran store errands. While she was gone, a few of my teammates stopped by. Someone commented about LeBrons’ large palms. I hadn’t noticed but they were pretty big for a little baby. It reminded me of my idol, Julius “Dr.J” Erving, as he also has large hands. We joked about what LeBron would be able to do with a basketball. At that moment I picked up LeBrons seat, raised him toward the heavens (Kunta Kinte) style and said, “I Christen Thee the next Dr.J”. I encouraged my teammates and they chimed in “To the next Dr.J”. When Gloria returned, I told her what I had done and proceeded to do it again. For the second time, I raised LeBron over my head and boldly said, “I Christen Thee the next Dr.J”.
Remember, Michael Jordan was only a rookie. Nike hadn't refined his "Air" persona yet. Dr.J was still the face of the NBA, its most marketed player and “Goodwill Ambassador”.
I moved back to Cleveland not long after that and never saw Gloria or her baby again until I recognized her in an article about the high school phenom, LeBron James. Needless to say, I was shocked. Nearly 18 years later it was obvious that the Universe had been listening at the mall that day. Another bizarre twist of fate is that LeBron recognizes Eddie Jackson Jr. as a father figure. Eddie, who knows nothing about these events, is my cousin. His grandma and my mom were sisters. He and I don’t talk very often.
So there you have it. The unknown chapter in the LeBron James story. The fact is Lebron, at three months old, was "Christened" to become the next Dr.J by the best basketball team in Akron and by a man that was touched by the grace of "The Greatest of all Time".
I welcome the opportunity to take a polygraph. Gloria James will remember me, not by name but she’ll know the guy from the mall. After being reminded, she should remember the “Christening”. I have found a couple of my teammates. I have the Ali newspaper photo and the Champions trophies from the Park and Rec. League. LeBron must know this story. It will change his life.
Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.