words & images // Zac Dubasik
There are roughly 40 miles that separate Akron and Cleveland – a straight shot on I-77. And what a different those 40 miles make. Even a year removed from The Decision, there’s still bitterness when it comes to LeBron James in the streets and gyms of Cleveland. But tonight in Akron, it was all love.
In front of a packed gym, James, along with high school teammates, Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, Willie McGee and Romeo Travis were inducted into St. Vincent-St. Mary Athletic Hall of Fame. Their team, chronicled in 2009’s More Than a Game documentary, took home three state titles, and a national championship in 2003. If you haven’t seen the film, and didn’t already know, their bond was apparent tonight, as the five often laughed and interacted throughout the evening. LeBron’s speech perfectly summed up their relationships with each other, as well as his relationship with his school:
“I’ve always said this was the best time of my life – high school. When you are in high school, you take these days for granted. When you’re a freshman, you look at your freshman year and say, ‘Aww man, I’ve got three more years, so we good.’ Then you get to you sophomore year, and you’re like, ‘OK, we’ve got two more years, we good.’ You do the same thing through your junior year. Then, when you’re a senior, and the last high school game you’ll ever have is for the National Championship, and it was the last game we’d play together, I think then we finally realized at that point that we had took our high school days for granted. We can’t ever get those days back. They were special days for all of us. We will always see one and other, no matter where life may take us, and no matter where life may carry us. It don’t take a ceremony to get us together. We’re together all the time. Sian was over my house yesterday. Dru and Rome were out in San Diego last week. … We’re always together. It doesn’t take a ceremony or for you all to put us in the Hall of Fame to get us together. We definitely appreciate this. St. Vincent-St. Mary is the greatest school that we have in Ohio, and probably the best school that we have in America. No matter where I travel, no matter where I go, I will always represent this school. “
While LeBron may be the reason we are so familiar with this high school squad, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony may be best remembered for what happened when one of his teammates took the mic following their speeches. Dru Joyce III, who now plays professionally in Germany, then left the stage, took a knee, and proposed to girlfriend Lanae Patton. She said “Yes.”
Tonight’s event capped off an exciting few days in the Akron area for LeBron. Monday he launched his new Wheels for Education program, which takes the place of his long running King for Kids Bikeathon. And earlier today, he dedicated the new $240,000 clubhouse his foundation helped fund at a local Boys and Girls Club. LeBron may no longer play his home games 40 miles away, but there’s no doubt he still considers Akron home.
words // Zac Dubasik
There’s never been an NBA player who’s shown love to their high school quite like LeBron James. In an era where HS superstars are more likely than ever to be transferring schools during their career, the loyalty among the “Fab Five” of homegrown kids at SVSM was all the more impressive.
Even now, a full nine years removed from attending Akron, Ohio’s St. Vincent-St. Mary, LeBron continues to rep his school’s green and gold colors, which have since become common knowledge in the hoops community. The school was even immortalized on film, when 2009’s “More Than a Game” showcased LeBron’s team’s journey to a national championship.
Knowing how much LeBron has done for his alma mater, it should come as no surprise that they are doing something for him. This Tuesday, along with his four teammates who were also featured in the “More Than a Game” film, LeBron will be enshrined in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
In celebration of the occasion, we take a look back at some of the best LeBron shoes worn as he created a legacy worthy of such an honor. Throughout his storied high school career, of course, exclusive kicks just seemed to have a habit of finding their way to LeBron’s feet.
10. adidas Pro Model
Death. Taxes. And the adidas Pro Model. Some things are just going to happen. Death and taxes might not be much fun, but this PE version of the Pro Model is one of the more exciting versions of the long-running tried and true line.
9. Nike Air Max Finisher
I know, I know. You probably thought the “Top Ten Most Forgettable Shoes With ‘Max Air’ In Their Name” might be the only Top 10 list you’d ever see the Air Max Finisher end up on … if you happen to remember it existed … if you even knew it existed in the first place. Luckily though, this pair of PE’s found its way to LeBron’s feet, saving the model from obscurity.
Heading into his ninth model, LeBron James has already had a longer running signature line at Nike than almost anyone not named Michael Jordan. Vince Carter, for example, had a much shorter-lived line, topping out at four. In VC’s defense (and similar to his defense), he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. With Shox as a company-wide initiative, it was inevitable that his line would feature the technology that was quickly discarded by many ballers.
7. adidas TMac 2 (White/ Gold)
Home-based colorways rarely are as cool as their away counterparts, and this is no exception. But it’s still a great example of the type of exclusive kicks that managed to find their way to LeBron while at SVSM.6. “USA” adidas The Kobe Two
It’d be easy to write the “Flag” Kobe Two off as one of the ugliest products of any kind … ever … but as sneaker fans, we often just can’t get around the mystique of exclusivity. Rumored to be less than 30 pairs in existence, this shoe serves as an example of just how important LeBron was to the sneaker companies fighting for his attention.
5. Reebok Question
Long before John Wall wore a PE of the poor-performing Question (during his break from the poor-performing Zig Slash), LeBron had his own version, and was actually the first player not named Allen Iverson to receive a custom colorway of The Answer’s iconic first shoe.
4. Nike Zoom Flight 2K3
The Zoom Flight 2K3 may have been a great playing shoe, but it’s been largely ignored – quickly being overshadowed by the unrelated and similarly named, Huarache 2K4. This LeBron PE version of the 2K3 has probably had the most impact in keeping the model’s memory alive, thanks to its bold and gold patent base.
3. Nike Ultraflight
While a LeBron James Hyperflight PE sure would have looked cool, luckily for Nike, it came out almost two years prior to the Ultraflight – and LeBron was spared wearing that performance disaster. But the Ultraflight looked awful cool too – especially in this LeBron PE colorway – which earns it a high spot on the list.
2. adidas TMac 2 (Green/ Gold)
Long before Tracy McGrady spent a season in Detroit, a few months in New York, and even an injury-plagued four years in Houston, he had a successful signature sneaker line with adidas. LeBron has often cited T-Mac (along with Penny Hardaway) as one of his favorite players, so a green and gold colorway of the line’s most popular shoe was an easy choice for our list.
1. Air Jordan IX
When you are playing the last game of your high school career, with a national title on the line, you might as well pull out a decent pair of kicks. LeBron went with a pair of Air Jordan PEs – a hard choice to argue.