LeBron James was perhaps the most heralded high school player in history while at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. After earning a starting role on the basketball team from day one and leading the Fighting Irish to three state titles, "The Chosen One" landed on the cover of SI and became more famous than most pros. But while he was unstoppable on the basketball court, James also had quite the following on the gridiron. In his sophomore year, he was named first-team all-state at wide receiver, and he led SVSM to the state semis the following year.
2 of 27Bob McKay/Landov
Many thought James had enough football talent to go pro, but he decided to stick with just basketball.
3 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
Helps to be 6-foot-7 sometimes.
4 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
In his freshman year, LeBron averaged 21 points and 6.2 rebounds to lead SVSM to a 23-1 record and a Division III state title.
5 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
The next year, his averages improved to 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 3.8 steals per game. SVSM successfully defended its state title that year.
6 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
LeBron, in the woods.
7 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
The first of LeBron's 16 SI covers, which went out on Feb. 18, 2002, was easily his most famous.
8 of 27Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal
LeBron and Carmelo Anthony, who sported a sweet dread-'fro during his days Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, were the two most-coveted high school players in 2002. Anthony went on to win an NCAA Championship at Syracuse before being selected by Denver with the No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft. LeBron jumped straight to the pros in '03 as the top overall pick.
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A December 2002 meeting between SVSM and No. 1-ranked Oak Hill was aired on national television, and James lived up to the hype. He scored 31 points on 12-for-25 shooting, and had 13 rebounds and six assists in SVSM's 65-45 upset win.
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He also had some pretty spectacular dunks in the win.
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LeBron and Sebastian Telfair, of Lincoln High in New York, hang out at the adidas ABCD camp in Teaneck, NJ.
12 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
LeBron steps out of a limo to show he's big-timer at 17 years old.
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James goes to work in a scrimmage.
14 of 27Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMI
James almost gets in a fight in that scrimmage.
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James blocks a shot by Warrensville Heights' Rian Powell.
16 of 27Michael J. LeBrecht II/SI
LeBron with NBA superfan James Goldstein in the locker room before a game against Mater Dei High School in L.A.
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LeBron's teammate and now business partner, Maverick Carter, goofs off in the locker room.
18 of 27Ron Kuntz/Reuters
LeBron hugs his mother, Gloria James.
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The shiny Hummer H2 that LeBron received from his mother for his 18th birthday became the focal point of a statewide investigation into his eligibility and whether he received improper benefits.
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Since a life-size Hummer isn't enough, LeBron got a remote-control one to play around with before a game.
21 of 27Al Tielemans/SI
LeBron gave us a glimpse of the future with this dunk at the 2003 PrimeTime Shootout, an annual tournament showcasing the top high-school teams in the country.
22 of 27Al Tielemans/SI
He scored a jaw-dropping 52 points in a 78-52 win over Westchester in the tournament.
23 of 27Stan Honda/Reuters
LeBron dominated the 2003 McDonald's All-American game, tallying a game-high 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and winning the MVP award. He also won the slam-dunk competition.
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James and sprinter Allyson Felix were named Gatorade Athletes of the Year in 2003.
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Ron Artest guards LeBron at Magic Johnson's All-Star Charity Game in 2003. James had 28 points, helping the rookies to a 127-123 victory.
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Wow. Check out the suede shoes. And the belt buckle! And is that pager or an old-school PDA? What a baller.
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So what if he was technically a Cleveland Cavalier when he shot this photo for his new Nike shoes. It's too good to leave out of this gallery. Enjoy.
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