LeBron James has played on two U.S. men's basketball teams, including the gold medal 2008 team. He's the third-highest-paid athlete in the world. He was the youngest player in NBA history to score 10,000 points and topped the league in scoring in 2007-8. He's led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA finals, and has been named the league MVP. It's hard to remember that he's only 25.
So, his youth is one reason that an autobiography is actually about LeBron's youth. Together with bestsellng author, Buzz Bissinger, the two tell the story of his childhood, the basketball friends and coach he found in fifth grade, and his years with those same friends playing for Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. It's the story of James, a kid from the projects going to a nearly all-white Catholic school, because he promised a friend they'd stick together. It's the story of that group of friends, facing down the black community in Akron when they turned on them for refusing to go to a black high school.
At times, this is a boring book, with all the details of high school basketball games. However, the story that carries the book is not the basketball story, but the story of friendship between those young men. LeBron's story is striking, the kid from the projects with a single mom. But, Willie McGee's is just as heartbreaking, and triumphant. He's a boy who left Chicago to live with his older brother where he could survive, and thrive, in Akron's environment. Any of those five young men could have turned out as angry men. Instead, they graduated from high school, and went on to college and the beginning of their adult lives.
They're only twenty-five. They were Shooting Stars who had a relatively short time together to shine. It's too early to tell what will happen to LeBron James' friends. Undoubtedly, their names won't have the recognition worldwide that his does. But, those young men, and the years on the basketball court together, have made LeBron James the man he is today, teaching him lessons, and giving him a group of friends to count on. This isn't the story of a professional basketball career. Shining Stars is the story of what it takes to become a man who can build a basketball career. And, it's those stories of friendship that shine in this sports biography.
Shooting Stars by LeBron James & Buzz Bissinger. Penguin Group (USA), ©2009. ISBN 9781594202322 (hardcover), 272p.