Behind the Scenes: Unveiling Fascinating Details about Gloria James, LeBron’s Inspirational Mother

LeBron James’ mother Gloria raised him on her own and remains a fixture in the NBA star’s life

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is joined by his mother Gloria James
PHOTO: NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY

LeBron James’ mother, Gloria James, proudly calls herself “Mother of the King,” and even has a tattoo that reads “Queen James.”

In terms of her character outside of being a mom to the NBA legend, however, she remains humble.

“I’m very simple and down to earth,” Gloria said in a Q&A with students from LeBron’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. “So if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to speak into, a hug, anything. We’re a big happy family.”

Gloria, a single mom to LeBron, remains a major fixture in his professional and personal life, often cheering him on at games and events. The NBA star credits her for making him the success that he is today.

In a conversation with Maria Shriver for Today in 2014, LeBron said, “I don’t know if she read about it, or she just heard about it, but from day one, I always had that mother and father inside my mother, so I never was a kid that was kind of like, ‘Where is my father?’ “

He added, “She gave me strength to a point where I never even had to think about that, and I have no idea where she got it from. To this day I still won’t even ask her, but she’s definitely the champion.”

Get to know LeBron James’ mom and beloved champion, Gloria James.

 

She had LeBron when she was 16 and raised him alone

Gloria James and LeBron James
GLORIA JAMES INSTAGRAM

Gloria Marie James was born in Akron, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 1968, and has two brothers, Curt and Terry James.

She had LeBron when she was 16 years old, and LeBron never had a relationship with his biological father, according to Sports Illustrated. Gloria had some help raising LeBron early on from her own mother, LeBron’s grandmother Freda James Howard, as LeBron recalled in a 2014 essay he penned for Today.

However, Howard died on Christmas Day in 1987 when LeBron was 3 years old. Gloria was then largely on her own, making ends meet with her two brothers as she took care of her son.

It wasn’t easy: LeBron and Gloria moved seven times by the time he was 5 years old. When he was in the fourth grade, LeBron missed 82 days of school and was sent to live with a foster family temporarily when Gloria and her brothers couldn’t pay their heating bill.

“Just how much responsibility that comes with being a single mom every single day, you don’t have that other half or that helping male influence in the house that can — especially in my case, being a son — that can give you that fatherly love or that fatherly guidance,’ ” LeBron told Shriver. “My mother figured [that] out.”

 

She didn’t push LeBron to become an NBA star

LeBron James' mother Gloria
LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/GETTY

Gloria has always been LeBron’s biggest cheerleader — his youth football coach once recalled her running up and down the sidelines with joy whenever he made a touchdown, according to ESPN — but she didn’t push him to be a star athlete.

In a 2001 New York Times profile of LeBron, then a 16-year-old junior in high school in Akron, Ohio, Gloria was described as “an enthusiastic fan” of her son. While she was proud of his achievements, she told the outlet that she wouldn’t put any pressure on LeBron to become an NBA star.

”What I want for LeBron is his happiness. He loves basketball,” she said. “But I would like to see him graduate with his class from high school, at least. But we’ll make a decision when the time comes.”

She added that LeBron was always well-behaved and polite, noting, “He’s a level-headed boy. He’s never given me a lick of problems.”

An SUV she gifted LeBron came under scrutiny

Gloria and James LeBron during the 2003 NBA DRAFT
JESSE D GARRABRANT/NBAE/GETTY

Gloria gifted LeBron a Hummer for his 18th birthday in December 2002, complete with TVs and hook-ups for computer games. The purchase, however, sparked an investigation; per the New York Times, it raised flags because LeBron and Gloria lived in public housing in Akron at the time.

According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s rules, high school athletes could lose their “amateur” status for “capitalizing on athletic fame by receiving money or gifts of monetary value.” If it was found that LeBron got the Hummer as anything other than a genuine gift from Gloria, who claimed to have financed the Hummer through a $50,000 auto loan, he may have been forced to give up his amateur eligibility. Gloria didn’t comment on the SUV gift at the time, though LeBron was cleared by the Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner after a two-week investigation.

She helps run the LeBron James Family Foundation

LeBron James, Bryce James, Savannah James, Zhuri James, Gloria Marie James, and Bronny James
ALLEN BEREZOVSKY/GETTY

Gloria is vice president of the LeBron James Family Foundation, which focuses on providing resources to children in need in the Akron, Ohio, area, where LeBron grew up. One of the foundation’s crowning achievements has been the I Promise School, a public school in Akron for at-risk children. LeBron credits Gloria with the I Promise School’s entire existence thanks to how hard she worked to give him a good life when they were struggling.

“Without my mother, and the way she raised me, there is no school,” LeBron said in a Family Foundation video dedicated to Gloria in April 2020. “There is no IPS without Gloria James. She gave me the tools. She gave me the blueprint. She gave me the life skills, so when it was time for me to put something like this together, along with our team, I just went back to everything that my mom taught me.”

She’s a grandmother

LeBron James Family celebrates Glora James' birthday
GLORIA JAMES INSTAGRAM

Lebron and his wife, Savannah James, started a family of their own, making Gloria a grandmother to their three children: LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., Bryce Maximus and Zhuri Nova.

Gloria is very close with her grandchildren and often shares photos on Instagram of her spending time with them. She attends Bronny and Bryce’s basketball games and frequently posts tributes celebrating their accomplishments.

“I cherish every moment of watching my grand boys grow into young men on and off the court. I’m so proud and I love you both very much @bronny @_justbryce!! ❤️,” she wrote in an April 2022 post, which featured photos of her posing with her grandsons at their tournaments.

She and Zhuri have also shared plenty of sweet moments through the years, including trips to Universal Studios and Disneyland.

 

LeBron missed her most during quarantine

LeBron James and his mother Gloria
LEBRON JAMES INSTAGRAM

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, LeBron’s biggest struggle was being away from Gloria while social distancing. “It’s the first time in my life that I went that long without seeing my mom,” LeBron said in a July 2020 press conference, adding that being with Gloria was “the only thing that [he] really missed.”

“I hadn’t seen my mom since All-Star weekend and then I saw her two weeks or three weeks before we had to report to our respective cities,” he explained. “That was extreme for me.”

LeBron said that Gloria’s positive attitude helped him through the quarantine portion of the pandemic, adding that she assured him they’d reunite “in due time.”

 

She was the first person LeBron called after winning the 2020 NBA Championships

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with his mom Gloria James
KEITH BIRMINGHAM/MEDIANEWS GROUP/PASADENA STAR-NEWS/GETTY

When LeBron and the Lakers won the NBA Championships in October 2020 (his fourth title), he immediately FaceTimed Gloria to celebrate.

A video that surfaced on Twitter shows LeBron sitting on the floor telling Gloria, “Everything that you have been through, everything that I’ve seen, it’s nothing that can stop me, ’cause this s— right here, this is nothing compared to the s— you had to go through,” he said. “God is good, God is great. I hope I continue to make you proud mom.”

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