CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had a good reason for missing practice Wednesday. He became a father.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star declined to say much Friday night about the baby boy born to him and his longtime girlfriend, a 19-year-old Akron woman.
James, also 19, says the birth was a great experience, but he
wouldn't give the baby's name despite multiple questions from
reporters. James did say everything was fine and that the baby was
James was speaking publicly for the first time since the birth.
He missed three practices this week while he was in his hometown of
Akron with the baby and mother.
James left the team's training camp in Columbus to be with her
and his new son. He was expected to rejoin the team Thursday as he
prepares for his second NBA season.
During the team's media day Monday at Gund Arena, James wouldn't
comment when asked if he were about to become a father. He has
always been guarded about his private life.
Fatherhood should fit James well. The reigning rookie of the
year, who turns 20 in December, is most relaxed when he is among
children. This summer, he donated money to refurbish basketball
courts and youth community centers in Akron. He has also donated
supplies to the city's schools.
James was raised as an only child by his mother Gloria, who was
estranged from James' father when he was a youngster
"That's my main goal, to try and be a better father than the
one I had," James told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I didn't know
him. I didn't know the situation he was in. But I'm going to do my
job the best way I can."
The identity of James' father has always been mysterious. The
paper reported he has died.
Another father figure in James' life, Eddie Jackson, is serving
a three-year prison term for mortgage and mail fraud.
On Monday, James said he matured as a result of having played a
year in the pros and because of his experience of being on the U.S.
Olympic team. He knows being a dad will make him grow up even more.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity in life."