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"It was the hardest decision I'd made in my life," says Gloria, now 42. This was a child who appeared older than his years, a boy missing out on the joys of childhood.
"The Walkers were also concerned that I was being passed from place to place, that I was a nomad at the age of 9," James writes in Shooting Stars.
At first, she had her own mother to lean on, to turn to for help raising the boy.
Then a heart attack stole her away on Christmas morning, when Gloria was 19. Now 25, the NBA superstar is one of the most celebrated players in the history of the sport.
When he was a junior, Sports Illustrated featured him on the cover, dubbing him "The Chosen One." That was all before he graduated.
In 2003, when James was 18, he was the Cleveland Cavaliers' first pick in the NBA draft.
Walker, still his football coach, asked him to join another team he was coaching, the Summit Lake Community Center Hornets.
The family welcomed James into their home, where he lived for a year, seeing his mother on weekends.
The discipline -- he did his first chores there -- along with the stability and the security of a settled family life: Le Bron drank it all in. "I loved being part of the flow that is a family." That year he did not miss a single day of school.
You have no idea of the security it gives you, how it makes you think, 'Man, I can get through this.
I can survive.'" Her sacrifice was the foundation for his survival.
Le Brons James' mother, Gloria James, was 16 years old, just a girl, when she had her first and only child, a son.