|Born||Gloria Marie James|
February 4 1968
Gloria Marie James (born February 4, 1968) is an American socialite, and is best known for being the mother of NBA superstar LeBron James.
James's baby father Anthony McClelland left her when he found out she was pregnant with their child. James, was 16 years old, just a girl, when she had her first and only child, a son. The boy's father was long gone, so he took his mom's last name. At first, she had her own mother to lean on, to turn to for help raising the boy. Then a heart attack stole her away on Christmas morning, when Gloria was 19. She would have to bring up LeBron James on her own. She did. And she brought him a mighty long way.
Eventually, the city condemned the house. Then they bulldozed it. James was 5.
For the next three years, James and his mother moved 12 times. He shuffled from school to school, where friendships began and ended every few months. In the fourth grade, he missed nearly a hundred days of school because he didn't have the means to get there. The one constant was his assurance that his mother was there for him. He writes, "Whatever my mom could do or could not do, I also knew that nobody was more important in her life than I was. You have no idea how much that means when you grow up without so many of the basic things you should have. You have no idea of the security it gives you, how it makes you think, 'Man, I can get through this. I can survive.'"
Her sacrifice was the foundation for his survival. When he was 9 years old, Gloria James realized she could not give her son what he needed most -- the grounding of a family. Along with her two brothers, she had been raised in a full house, cared for by her mother and grandparents and surrounded by an extended family of friends and neighbors. It's where she got her own values, and she wanted the same for her son. That, she came to realize, meant putting him into someone else's hands.
"It was the hardest decision I'd made in my life," says Gloria, now in her 40s. "But it was also one of the best. At that time in his life, he needed stability. It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about him. I had to put him first."
Gloria James laughs when she ponders where her son got the hoops gene. She grew up in a sports-loving family, and she recalls sitting on her grandfather's lap as a little girl, watching … baseball. The Cleveland Indians were her team. "He picked up basketball on his own," she says. "I can't take credit for that one."
When he was 3 years old, she gave him a toy basketball set for Christmas. She watched him slam the ball into the plastic hoop, but she had no inkling what the future held.
"I am not going to say I knew he was going to be a superstar," she says. "But you could tell he was fully determined. He wouldn't play with that toy set unless [the basketball hoop] was on the highest setting."
Included in those lessons were those that Gloria James taught her son about bringing up his own children. Here, mother and son share a few of the lessons that have helped them be good parents:
Family means more than blood . When Gloria asked for help raising LeBron, the Walker family stepped up and treated him as one of their own. Family, he learned, are the people "you can look to in times of need and in times of happiness."
Leave your troubles at the door . Despite financial worries and other challenges, Gloria always had time for her son. "When I was growing up, things were always against her," says LeBron, "but she never brought it to me."
Patience and selflessness go a long way . "The most important -- and sometimes the hardest -- lesson to learn is patience," says Gloria. "It doesn't matter if you are sick and tired. Your baby doesn't know that, doesn't know when you are irritated. And it's always about that baby, it's not about you."
Learn by doing, and then doing again . "You might have to change diapers a thousand times a day," says Gloria. "That might not sound cool, but if you haven't had to raise a child, you just have to learn."
Look to the best teachers . "When it comes to raising my kids," LeBron says, "I'm definitely going to steal from my mom's playbook."