There was one person sorely missing from LeBron James' life when he was quarantining with his wife and three children in Los Angeles after the NBA was suspended March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
James went more than three months without seeing his mother, Gloria, who was in Akron, Ohio and didn't feel comfortable flying out to Los Angeles.
"The only thing that I missed during the COVID and quarantine period was my mother," James said in a video conference call Monday. "It was the first time I went that long in my life without seeing my mom. I hadn’t seen my mom since All-Star weekend then I saw her two weeks, three weeks before we had to report to our respective cities. That was extreme for me."
James and his mother are very close. He's long expressed awe over her strength and resilience in keeping them afloat during his childhood, even when food was scarce, money was slim and they had to move 12 times between the ages of five and eight.
"Obviously, you guys know my story, being a single, coming from a single parent household, being an only child, my mother was 16 when she had me," James said. "For me to be away from her that long, she was like, 'I’m not leaving Akron. I’m not getting on the plane. I’m not.'"
James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, recently credited his mother for inspiring him to found the I Promise School in Akron in 2018 to help other at-risk youth beat the odds.
“Without my mother, and the way she raised me, there is no school,” James said in a video tweeted by the I Promise School in April. “There is no IPS without Gloria James. She gave me the tools. She gave me the blueprint. She gave me the life skills, so when it was time for me to put something like this together, along with our team, I just went back to everything that my mom taught me.”
Gloria visited the school before the pandemic and answered some of the students' questions.
One girl asked her how she persevered after giving birth to James as a teenager.
“A lot of faith in our God above,” Gloria said the video. “And just a lot of pleasure in knowing I planned on raising a really good human being.”
When asked what she wanted people to know about her, Gloria said she's "simple and down to earth," before telling the students, "If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to speak into, a hug, anything, we’re a big happy family.”
James called Mother's Day his favorite day of the year on Instagram in May. He posted a photo of him and Gloria sitting next to each other and thanked her profusely for all she had done for him.
"Still to this day I don’t know how you did it but damn it you did and I’m so grateful and lucky to have you as my mother!" James wrote. "My angel 👼🏾, my Guardian, my Protector, My Life!!"
James got through the hiatus by playing basketball with his sons, having tea time and coloring with his daughter and playing card games, drinking wine and binge-watching television shows with his wife.
But there was still a big hole.
"My mom, she kept me sane, because she said in due time we’ll join back again," he said.