LeBron James was asked Thursday if he's being hypocritical by banning his kids from playing football even though he played in high school.
"I needed a way out [of poverty]," James said, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. "My kids don’t."
James excelled as a wide receiver at Cleveland's St. Vincent-St.Mary's, catching 27 touchdown passes and tallying just over 1,900 yards in his high school career.
In recent years, the four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion has entertained the idea of suiting up for an NFL team.
A report from Outside the Lines in late 2013 revealed that participation in Pop Warner youth football leagues dropped by almost 10 percent, witnessing a decline of 23,612 players between 2010 and 2012. The loss was the largest the organization had seen over a two-year period since it started keeping records.
USA Football, a youth league governing body funded partially by the NFL, said the number of players ages 6 to 14 dropped by 6.7 percent, from 3 million to 2.8 million in 2011.
Pop Warner has moved to limit the amount of contact allowed in practices, and recently announced a partnership with the NFL to support the "Heads Up" program, aimed to instill proper tackling technique in young players.
While LeBron has decided to keep LeBron James Jr., 9, and Bryce Maximus James, 7, away from the sidelines as players, he is less hesitant about them being spectators. His first public appearance after signing with the Cavaliers in July was with his sons at a Cleveland Browns practice session.
- Christopher Woody and Chris Johnson