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How LeBron James annoyed his high school football coaches by being too good

ClutchPoints logo: MainLogo ClutchPoints 3/25/2023 Calvin Fong
02/09/2023 © Provided by ClutchPoints 02/09/2023

Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James would have been the “best tight end of all time,” one NFL GM predicted, per Complex.

Philadelphia 76ers’ coach Doc Rivers once claimed that if James chose football, he “may have been the greatest football player ever, at whatever position,” per

While the Lakers star has spent the past 20 years wreaking havoc on the hardwood, he once was governing the gridiron. In fact, James was so good at high school football that his coaches were annoyed at how good he was.

His wild high school football career started on the bench, per Bleacher Report.

St. Vincent-St. Mary, where James attended high school, already had a number-one wide receiver: Maverick Carter. But in one game in the state playoffs, Carter – who later became James’ business manager – was struggling due to an illness.

The St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish were looking for answers, and hadn’t scored a single point all game. In the third quarter, they finally turned to their six-foot-six freshman WR off the bench, LeBron James.

Even without knowing a lot of the team’s plays, James came in. The coaches ran only fade routes and screen passes for him, but that was enough. Fighting Irish QB Chris Wooley soon discovered that if he threw any pass in James’ direction, he would come down with it.

Over just one quarter, James piled up over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The Fighting Irish lost the game, but realized something greater: they had a stud at wide receiver waiting to break out.

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In James’ sophomore season on the varsity football team, he totaled 42 receptions for 752 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He topped that in his junior year, finishing with 57 receptions for 1,160 yards and 16 touchdowns.

According to ESPN, he once even broke his index finger in the first half of a game during his junior year. At that point, he was already firmly on the path to basketball stardom, and James spent halftime thinking about how his broken finger impacted his basketball season.

His coaches encouraged him to sit out the second half, or just be used as a decoy on the field. But James responded to them with three words that revealed his love for the game: “I’m no decoy.”

Big college football programs like Ohio State, Notre Dame, and USC all approached James about football scholarships. Once they caught wind of this kid in Ohio, many speculated he’d be playing on Sundays one day.

LeBron James was so dominant on the football field that it frustrated even his own coaches.

During one practice, the team was running a tackling drill. Each time, though, James dodged and juked his defender so badly that no one could bring him to the turf.

Wanting to level the playing field, the coaches narrowed the cones so much that James only had one foot of space to operate in. They even put the team’s top linebacker up against James, and they stood back, ready to watch their star receiver finally get tackled.

But they underestimated James’ athleticism.

As the linebacker charged at him, James leapt into the air, stepping on the linebacker’s helmet on his way up. LeBron James miraculously landed on the ground, untouched and still standing.

The entire team was in awe. A few teammates took off their helmets to process what just happened.

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Despite only playing two full seasons of high school football, he sits third in the St. Vincent-St. Mary record books with 99 career receptions. He also is 7th in school history with 27 career touchdowns.

“He was a man amongst boys,” one teammate said.

James left such an impression that even in 2011, when the NBA was in a lockout, he had NFL teams reaching out to him, per Both the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks reached out to him with an offer to work out for them.

While he eventually declined those offers, LeBron James later said there was no doubt in his mind that he would’ve made the team if he had tried out.

Mark Murphy, a former Green Bay Packers’ safety, was one of James’ high school football coaches. On his list of top wide receivers all-time, he had James Lofton, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, and LeBron James.

Three of those men are in the Pro Football Hal of Fame. The other chose the NBA.

And while James still has a passion for football, the 19-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion is probably satisfied with his choice.

The post How LeBron James annoyed his high school football coaches by being too good appeared first on ClutchPoints.


Nish Patel

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