In an unusually heartfelt and candid interview, LeBron James has thanked his absent father, Anthony McClelland, for inspiring him.
Raised by his single mother, Gloria, the Heat forward moved frequently as a child, living in government housing and with the family of one of his basketball coaches. James told GQ.com that growing up without his biological father provided extra motivation and shaped his approach to business decisions.
"Like, 'Wow, Dad, you know what, I don't know you, I have no idea who you are, but because of you is part of the reason who I am today.' The fuel that I use—you not being there—it's part of the reason I grew up to become who I am. It's part of the reason why I want to be hands-on with my endeavors. And be able to put my guys that's with me now in position. Like Maverick Carter, my right-hand guy in my business. Rich Paul, my agent. Randy Mims, my friend—he's my manager, you know. So me in a position allowing people around me to grow, that maybe wouldn't have happened if I had two parents, two sisters, a dog, and a picket fence, you know?"
On his Instagram account, James added: "Because of you Pops! Thanks all along. Could have said 'Why me?' with [you] not being there but look what I made of myself."
ESPN: The Magazine reported in 2002 that McClelland has been convicted of arson and theft, among other crimes.
James' message to his father comes roughly a month after the four-time MVP praised his mother, who gave birth to him when she was 16, in an essay that was featured as part of a Today series celebrating the accomplishments of women who overcame adversity.
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.”
People always say I am devoted to my mother. That’s true, but only because for every minute of my life, she has been devoted to me. My mother taught me what devotion truly means. I have tried to pass along her example by helping kids who are growing up in single-parent homes through the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The 10-time All-Star and two-time champ married his longtime girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, back in September. James has appeared in national television commercials with the couple's two young sons, and he also recently starred in a recent Nike advertisement in which he worked out with hundreds of children in Miami.
Following the Heat's 2013 title victory, James, 29, spoke about the odds that faced him when he was growing up in trying circumstances. "I'm LeBron James, from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city," he said, when asked about how he deals with criticism. "I'm not even supposed to be here. That's enough. Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a No. 6 with James on the back, I'm blessed. So whatever everybody says about me off the court don't matter. I ain't got no worries."