LeBron James’ “Thank You” to Absentee Father Is Really A Nod to His Mother

February 22, 2014  |  

Earlier this week, LeBron shared a picture on Instagram.  It wasn’t the normal picture of him goofing off with teammates, his wife Savannah, or the kids like he normally posts.  He posted the photo above with the following caption:

“Because of you Pops! Thanks all along. Could have said why me with u not being there but look what I made of myself. Thanks to Huffington Post for the graphic. #StriveForGreatness”

The quote came from a recent interview with LeBron in the March edition of GQ Magazine. The Huffington Post took what the quote, created an image out of it, and gave it to James. Then he shared it with the world.

On the surface I thought that what LeBron said was jarring, and even a little facetious. After reading it a couple of times I see someone who was once hurt by the idea of not having his father in his life and seeing his young mother struggle. Last month, he wrote an essay for the Shriver Report’s effort to support and empower single mothers about how his mother struggled to take care of him. In essence that was his motivation: to repay her by making a better life for her.

“Finally, when I was 9 years old, my mother made a supreme sacrifice. She decided that while she was figuring out how to get on her feet, I needed some stability in my life. I needed to stay in one place and experience the support and security that she had felt growing up in a big family. So she sent me to live with my pee-wee football team coach, “Big Frankie” Walker, and his family. She later said to me, “It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about you. I had to put you first.”

While on the surface it seems like King James’ Instagram post is taking shots at his father, he is really saying and giving thanks to his mother for making him the man that he currently is while reflecting from a place of peace and self-actualization.

I know a lot of young black men who feel this way. During my tenure at Morehouse College I saw the gamut of black men and how having a father in their life influenced them and/or how their fathers being absent was sometimes detrimental, a chip on their shoulder, or the fuel to make them aspire to be successful in their endeavors. I’ve come across many who have felt that the absence of their father in their lives made them want to stick it to them by being the consummate expert in their field, the satisfaction of being written about, and the look on that man’s face wherever he is possibly knowing that this person is their son. I don’t get that from LeBron and the way he spoke about his dad.

The truth is LeBron James wouldn’t be who he is now if his father had been around. They often say that the best talents come from the darkest places. It can take on many forms and those who are successful–in whatever terms they define it–channel this into what they are passionate about and then use it for the world to benefit from it.

How we are raised does determine how we want to raise our own children. My father was and has been great to me and my mission in life is to outdo what he has done and be the best single parent that I can be to my little girl. I can’t tell her too much about how to become a woman (hopefully I can convince someone else to take on this role full-time), but I can demonstrate how to care for her offspring and be better than me.

With that said I’d like to part with one last quote that Mr. James wrote that sums all of this up:

“The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys—9-year-old LeBron Jr. and 6-year-old Bryce—I learned from my mother. Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives—I learned all of that from her example.”

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