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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * From the #1 bestselling author of The Dynasty and Tiger Woods comes the definitive biography of basketball superstar LeBron James, based on three years of exhaustive research and more than 250 interviews.
LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of the twenty-first century, and he’s in the conversation with Michael Jordan as the greatest of all time. The reigning king of the game and the first active NBA player to become a billionaire, LeBron wears the crown like he was born with it. Yet his ascent has been anything but effortless and predetermined— the truth is vastly more interesting than that.
What makes LeBron’s story so compelling is how he won his destiny despite overwhelmingly long odds, in a drama worthy of a Dickens novel. As a child, he was a scared and lonely little boy living a nomadic existence in Akron, Ohio. His mother, who had LeBron when she was sixteen, would sometimes leave him on his own. Destitute and fatherless, he missed close to one hundred days of school in the fourth grade. Desperate, his mother placed him with a family that gave him stability and put a basketball in his hands.
LeBron tells the full, riveting saga of how a child adrift found the will to become a titan. Jeff Benedict, the most celebrated sports biographer of our time, paints a vivid picture of LeBron’s epic origin story, showing the gradual rise of a star who, surrounded by a tight-knit group of teenage friends and adult mentors, accelerated into a speeding comet during high school. Today LeBron produces Hollywood films and television shows, has a social media presence that includes more than one hundred million followers, engages in political activism, takes outspoken stances on racism and social injustice, and transforms lives through his visionary philanthropy. He went from a lost boy in Akron to a beloved hero who uses his fortune to educate underprivileged children and lift up needy families—and brought home Cleveland’s first NBA championship.
But LeBron is more than just the origin story of a GOAT or a recap of his multi-championship, multi-MVP, gold medal–decorated career on the court. Benedict delves into LeBron’s relationship with fame and power: how he has cultivated it, harnessed it, suffered from it, and leveraged it. In these pages, we go behind the scenes of LeBron’s grappling with his seismic celebrity, from appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school junior to The Decision, which briefly turned the nation against him. We also watch his evolution from a player who avoided politics and was widely criticized for not joining his teammates in protesting China’s role in the Darfur genocide to becoming an athlete who partnered with President Obama; campaigned for Hillary Clinton; became an advocate against gun violence, racism, and voter suppression; and openly clashed with President Trump, empowering other athletes to speak out against social injustice.
To capture LeBron’s extraordinary life, Benedict conducted hundreds of interviews with the people who were involved with LeBron at different stages of his life. He also obtained thousands of pages of primary source documents and mined hundreds of hours of video footage. Destined to be the authoritative account of LeBron’s life, LeBron is a gripping, inspiring, and unprecedented portrait of one of the world’s most captivating figures.
About the Author
Jeff Benedict is the bestselling author of seventeen nonfiction books. He’s also a film and television producer. He is the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Tiger Woods. The book was the basis of the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary Tiger, which Benedict executive produced. The Dynasty, the definitive inside story of the New England Patriots under Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady, was a New York Times bestseller. The book is the basis of a forthcoming ten-part documentary series for Apple TV+, which Benedict is executive producing. His critically acclaimed book Poisoned is the basis of a Netflix documentary, which Benedict executive produced. His legal thriller Little Pink House was adapted into a motion picture starring Catherine Keener and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Benedict wrote Steve Young’s New York Times bestselling autobiography QB, which was the basis of an NFL Films documentary. Benedict’s upcoming biography of LeBron James will be published in 2023.
“Masterful . . . Propulsive . . . This is a fast break of a book, slicing into the many mini-narratives that James has lived and artfully tying them together to create a portrait of a man who has, by his own design, remained an enigma except to those he decides to trust. Benedict has constructed a sort of sports opera fueled by the drama and emotion surrounding his subject, but never sensationalistic or unfair. . . Benedict’s greatest feat here might be the way he cuts through both the public hysteria surrounding James and the superstar’s own protective field to paint a portrait of a man in full. . . . LeBron isn’t just great sportswriting, it’s also vivid narrative journalism.”
—Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times
“The definitive biography of LeBron James . . . [Readers] will appreciate the perspective Benedict provides when it comes to just how much James changed the perception of what it means to be a modern athlete.”
“Inspiring . . . An absorbing chronicle of talent, character, pluck, and luck.”
—Wall Street Journal
“The definitive biography . . . It’s fantastic. . . . So rich in granular detail.”
—Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated
“LeBron is fantastic. Add it to your list.”
—Jon Bon Jovi
“An absolutely consumable book. It’s the kind of in-depth reporting and context that you just don’t get. . . . I thought I knew just about everything about LeBron. But the details and the digging here are so fun.”
“Jeff Benedict knows how to begin and tell a story. . . . He’s a master of his craft. . . . The vividness and execution of his writing . . . is almost cinematic, like watching an episode of Succession.”
“Engrossing . . . This authoritative account renders the athlete’s life in fascinating, fine-grained detail. . . . Even devoted fans will emerge with a greater understanding of the superstar.”
“LeBron is an appropriately epic portrait . . . thoroughly fleshed out in Benedict’s crisp style and skillfully-set scenes . . . Benedict provides the most comprehensive profile yet in this biography truly fit for the King.”
PRAISE FOR OTHER BOOKS BY JEFF BENEDICT
* The Dynasty *
An epic business story . . . The Dynasty goes deeper than anyone has before on the Beatles-esque collaboration among an owner, a coach, and a star player.”
“Most often in our business, there are writers and there are reporters, and rarely do the twain meet. In The Dynasty, Jeff Benedict shows he’s masterful at both. His reporting on the very well-worn (trust me) earth of the Patriots’ greatness is groundbreaking, starting with his illumination of the evening in the hospital in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe’s life was in peril and going all the way through to previously unknown details of the emotional play-by-play of Tom Brady’s departure from New England. The imagery and prose are just as strong. Such a great read from Benedict.”
—Peter King, NBC Sports, author of “Football Morning in America”
“For two decades we’ve been peering up at the castle looming over the American sportscape with the same mixture of awe, suspicion, and envy with which peasants have peered up at palisades for millennia. So when a deft and lyrical serf named Benedict slips inside, lowers the drawbridge, and waves us in to see the ramparts, towers, turrets, and castle keep where the Brady-Belichick-Kraft trinity ruled . . . how can a peasant resist?”
—Gary Smith, longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author of Beyond the Game
“This is an extraordinary book. The narrative is comprehensive, intimate, and original. I’ve watched and written about the entire Patriots dynasty, and yet this epic story provides new insights and startling details that I didn’t know. I can assure you that there’s not another Patriots book like it.”
—Michael Holley, author of Belichick and Brady and Patriot Reign
“A marvelously told story of the New England Patriots . . . This is the story of a well-run and successful business, very much like Apple or Amazon. . . . You don’t need be a sports fan to enjoy this masterpiece study of a successful sports franchise. . . . With substantial research, great attention to detail and superb writing, The Dynasty is a book worthy of the team it chronicles.”
“A page-turner for Patriots fans. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes, untold nuggets, along with more detailed versions of often-told stories that have taken place during Robert Kraft’s ownership of the team. . . . It was as if Benedict was a fly on the wall for many of these significant events, and in some cases, he was in fact present to witness some indelible moments.”
* Tiger Woods *
“Irresistible . . . Immensely readable . . . The authors have laid out a saga that is part myth, part Shakespeare, part Jackie Collins. . . . Benedict and Keteyian bring us along for the ride in a whirlwind of a biography that reads honest and true.”
—Leigh Montville, The Wall Street Journal
“There is beauty and awe in this perfectly pitched biography . . . It has torque and velocity . . . It’s a confident and substantial book that’s nearly as sleek as a Christopher Nolan movie. It makes a sweet sound, like a well-struck golf ball. I found it exhilarating, depressing, tawdry and moving in almost equal measure. It’s a big American story. . . . The authors bring grainy new detail to almost every aspect of Woods’s life.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Comprehensive, propulsive, packed with incident . . . and unsparing.”
—Ian Crouch, The New Yorker
“An ambitious 360-degree portrait of golf’s most scrutinized figure . . . The book features fresh reporting on almost every significant element of Woods’ story. . . . It is a book brimming with revealing details.”
—Sam Weinman, Golf Digest
“Chilling . . . Exhaustively researched . . . The authors present Woods as a man ‘both blessed and cursed’ by his otherworldly ability to separate his off-the-course problems from his performance on it. Tiger Woods is a fascinating analysis of the former, but for golf fans—and probably for Woods himself—his worth will still be judged by the latter. . . . What Benedict and Keteyian do better than in any biography I’ve read about Woods is detail the human costs of this machine-like focus.”
—John Paul Newport, Bloomberg Businessweek