Biographer Jeff Benedict Talks LeBron James With KSL Sports’ Sam Farnsworth

Apr 27, 2023, 2:07 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Similar to Tiger Woods and Tom Brady before him, LeBron James has transcended his sport to become more than just an athlete.

KSL Sports anchor Sam Farnsworth sat down with New York Times bestselling author Jeff Benedict to discuss his new book, “LeBron”.

Benedict, who also wrote biographical books on Woods and the New England Patriots, felt like this was a natural next step as a writer.

“LeBron was a natural in terms of following that linear line,” Benedict told Farnsworth. “The thing that’s beautiful is we’ll probably never see another quarterback like Tom (Brady), or another golfer like Tiger. LeBron, he could get off an airplane on any continent and people recognize him instantly. There aren’t many humans who are known around the world by one name.”

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Challenging Childhood for LeBron James

20 years into his NBA career, it can be easy to forget that James’ story began under difficult circumstances.

“In LeBron’s case, the poverty is staggering,” Benedict said.

Gloria Marie James raised LeBron in Akron, OH as a single mother. It took years for life to settle down for the pair.

“The single parenting. The nomadic lifestyle of moving from place to place to place and changing schools every year. Not knowing where you’re going to sleep. Not knowing where your next meal is.”

“That moment is so far removed from where he’s going to end up,” Benedict said of James’ childhood. “In the beginning, it almost feels like there’s no way he’s going to get there.”

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LeBron Becomes First Active Billionaire Athlete

The book starts with “The Decision”, James’ announcement that he was leaving his hometown of Cleveland to join the Miami Heat. It was a decision that would alter the course of his life.

“Prior to that moment, he’s the most famous basketball player in America,” Benedict stated. “After that moment, he is suddenly a world figure that people are now interested in for reasons other than basketball. That’s where LeBron crosses over and becomes a global figure of interest.

Two NBA championships in Miami, followed by a third in Cleveland and a fourth with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 have positioned LeBron as the first active billionaire athlete.

LeBron’s star power has already allowed him to become a part-owner of MLB’s Boston Red Sox and spawned SpringHill Company, a film & TV production business.

“He’s done more things as a player than any player in history in any sport, and that’s not really a debatable statement,” Benedict concludes. “You can say what you want about him doing that (The Decision), but in hindsight, what it did for him in the long run was actually really good.”

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Biographer Jeff Benedict Talks LeBron James With KSL Sports’ Sam Farnsworth