LeBron James might be the “Chosen One”, but things were definitely not laid down on a platter for the NBA’s all-time top scorer.
There was a time when King James was homeless and struggling to find stability in life. While his mother Gloria was and remains his constant pillar of support, James needed all the help that he could gather to get where he reached in his life and his career.
Gloria James had just quit a job, and the family was living under welfare at the time. There was not enough to sustain two lives in suburban Akron for Gloria. While James was not adopted technically, there were foster figures in his life who helped mold LeBron James into the star he is today.
First, in the form of Bruce Kelker and then with the Walker family in suburban Akron.
Bruce Kelker’s entry into James’ life marked his entrance into the world of sport and the first displays of his otherworldly athletic prowess.
Kelker’s search for a potential football star led to LeBron James catching his eye, beginning the start of a familial relationship, with James and Gloria even staying with Kelker.
However, Kelker’s limitations in sustaining his own life was the next hurdle in James’ path to the NBA. That led to James having to look towards the kindness of another individual and his family for shelter, leading them to the benevolent household of the Walkers.
James, then a football player by his own admission, was taken under the wing by Frankie Walker and his family. Frankie Walker’s son, Walker Jr., had to share a room with James as the superstar in the making found his feet at a new house.
Walker Jr. and James were football teammates. Their friendship went well beyond Akron, continuing to this day. Walker Jr. is even one of James’ business partners. LeBron James clearly did not forget the people who helped him find a space to rest before he took off to superstardom.
It was for a while the now LA Lakers superstar lived with the Walkers that he picked up the sport of basketball in the football off-season. This decision, as we know, changed the landscape of basketball and the NBA for decades to come.
Frank Walker is even credited with teaching James his basketball basics. Walker coached James and taught him how to dribble and shoot layups. It was here that the foundations were laid for one of the best, if not the best, careers in basketball history.
The Walkers did not just adopt James; they ensured that his childhood was saved from the grip of poverty-ridden anonymity, practically gifting the world one of the premier athletes of all time with their act of kindness.