There’s hardly anything that remains private about LeBron James anymore. From the bits and pieces of his life that he shares in 140-character dispatches with his more than 21 million Twitter followers, to the larger chunks of his story that have already been disseminated for years in magazines, newspapers, websites, TV shows and even a feature-length documentary, the public has been in on all of the 30-year-old's triumphs and tribulations since he was a teen.
Yet, while so much about James has been reported over the past 12 years he has been a pro, that doesn’t mean every detail about him is common knowledge. With that in mind, here are 23 lesser-known facts about No. 23 as he embarks on his sixth NBA Finals appearance.
1. James’ second son, Bryce Maximus, was born during his first trip to the Finals in 2007. “June 14th,” James told ESPN.com, admitting that seeing how much Bryce has grown makes him think back to how his career has gone as well. “We was in the Finals. I was preparing for Game 3. He’s huge now. It just lets me know how fast time flies, man. And I’m fortunate enough to be in this situation again.”
2. One of the many places that James and his mother, Gloria, lived when he was growing up was 439 Hickory St. in Akron, Ohio. There is actual footage in a recent Beats by Dre headphones commercial that shows that house being torn down because of delinquent payments.
3. When James first started playing youth basketball, his coach, Frank Walker, gave every player on James’ team an MVP trophy at the end of the season, even though James led the league in scoring and assists en route to a league championship.
4. In James’ first season playing football, in fourth grade, he played for a team called the East Dragons and scored 17 touchdowns in six games.
5. James and his high school teammates at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron went door to door selling “duct tape and things of that nature” in order to raise money for new uniforms.
6. Before he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at the ripe old age of 17, James had a fake SI cover depicting him displayed above the TV in his family’s living room, with the headline, “Is he the next Michael Jordan?” printed on it.
7. James first met his friend-turned-agent Rich Paul at the Akron-Canton airport when James was in high school. Paul, who was selling sports jerseys out of the trunk of his car, was wearing a Warren Moon throwback that caught James’ eye. Paul’s jersey supplier was based in Atlanta, where James was flying for a tournament. Paul gave James contact info for the supplier, telling him to drop his name to get a discount. They have been in each others’ lives ever since.
8. James has said on multiple occasions that had he gone to college, it would have been Ohio State. However, the other school he was considering the most was the University of North Carolina.
9. Paul told ESPN’s Chris Broussard in the summer of 2013 that he believed James had only reached 85 percent of his potential as a player up to that point. Based on James’ answer this week about his level of play, it sounds like he believes he is still ascending toward 100 percent. "I think if you put it all together, yeah," James said. "If you put everything together as far as my mind, my body, my game. If you put everything in one bottle, this is probably the best I've been."
10. James was still young at the time, coming off his rookie season in the NBA, but his averages for the 2004 Olympic team in Athens are stunning: Just 5.4 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Coach Larry Brown played James sparingly, and the U.S. went just 5-3, coming away with only the bronze medal.
11. During his first stint with the Cavs, James posterized Damon Jones with a vicious hammer dunk over him on April 3, 2005, when Jones was with the Heat. Jones said he had 65 missed calls to his phone after the game, 35 coming from NBA players to razz him about it. Jones joined James and the Cavs as a free agent the following season and came back to the franchise this season as, officially, its “roving instructor.”
13. The James household watches a lot of cartoons. James has said “Tom & Jerry” is his favorite, he’ll sometimes watch “SpongeBob SquarePants” by himself while his kids are at school and also has referenced “Family Guy” jokes to try to crack up his teammates. When his eldest son, LeBron Jr., came in the Cavs’ locker room last week after Cleveland swept Atlanta in the Eastern Conference finals, he jokingly asked a team staffer if he could change the channel from the basketball highlights playing on the flat-screen TV so he could watch “Teen Titans Go!”
14. Despite the fact that James’ 2010 TV special, “The Decision,” raised more than $2.5 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, James’ Q Score -- a measurement that ranks popularity in the United States -- dropped dramatically, from 34 to 16. “It was the biggest decline I've ever seen that was not criminally related," Henry Schafer, executive vice president of the Q Scores Company, told the Sun Sentinel. Now, after two titles and a return to Cleveland, James’ Q Score is a robust 29 as of April, 2015. “Among sports fans, I would say he’s back at the peak appeal level that he was at in 2010,” Schafer told ESPN.com. “He’s overcome the negativity that was generated by going to Miami.”
16. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra credits a conversation with then-Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly that same summer as his eureka moment to maximize James and Wade on offense together through a Kelly-like pace-and-space attack.
17. Out of all the stats one could register on the basketball court, James says assists are his favorite. “I've always loved the success of my teammates more than myself," he's said. "I've always been like that since I was a kid. Even when I first started playing basketball, we had a kid named Sonny on our team that was younger than all of us and he couldn't catch. So, in order for him to catch we used to roll the ball to him so he could pick it up and shoot it off the ground. And when he finally made one, it was like the greatest thing for all of us. And I'll always remember that.”
18. In addition to a gold medal, James took home another memento from Team USA’s Olympic win in Beijing in 2008: He had the entire team sign the sneakers he wore in the championship game against Spain.
19. He’ll be co-starring in the upcoming Judd Apatow movie “Trainwreck” this summer, playing himself. He said the actor he aspired to be like when he was younger was Will Smith, both for his comedic turn in “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and action-flick chops in “Bad Boys.” He also worked on a film, “Ballers,” with comedian Kevin Hart in 2013 that has yet to be released.
20. James' friend and longtime athletic trainer, Mike Mancias, is charge of all the big and little tasks to keep James on track season after season. In addition to working him out in the summertime and selecting James’ pregame meals, he also carries a case in his pocket inside of which James stores his mouth guard during timeouts.
21. When Cavs general manager David Griffin and coach David Blatt were planning their offseason free agency strategy last June, Griffin wrote a list of four targeted small forwards on a board in the meeting room. There was Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza and “The Guy.” Less than a month later, “The Guy,” a.k.a. James, announced his return to Cleveland, rendering their interest in the other swingmen moot.
22. Ever since high school, when his private Catholic school made him cover them up for games with white tape, James’ tattoos have been a topic of conversation. He added another one this season, a portrait of his daughter, Zhuri, emblazoned on his back.
23. Perhaps taking a cue from a motivation tactic Pat Riley used in the summer of 2010 to successfully lure him to Miami, James brought both of his championship rings in to show his Cleveland teammates before the Cavs embarked on their playoff run this April.
“It was just a little inspiration,” James told ESPN.com. “And just so they can get a visual; you know, it’s almost like the difference between reading a book and reading a pop-up book. As great as [regular] books are, sometimes guys need visuals. And for me to have a visual for these guys to know exactly what we’re chasing --- because we don’t actually get the gold trophy, we don’t get that, the team gets that. I mean, I’ve felt it for a little bit and then I’ve never had it -- so, those rings are what we’re chasing and hopefully we can do it.”