LeBron James revealed he had to learn to trust white people when he was 14 years old and attending a private Catholic school for the first time.
When James started at the St Vincent-St Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, he had no intention of becoming friends with anyone who was white.
‘When I first went to the ninth grade, I was like, “I’m not f*****g with white people”‘, James said during the premiere of his new HBO show The Shop.
‘I was so institutionalized from growing up in the hood, it’s like “They don’t f**k with us, they don’t want us to succeed’.
LeBron James had to learn to trust white people when he was 14 years old and attending a private Catholic school for the first time, he revealed on his new show The Shop (pictured)
‘When I first went to the ninth grade, I was like, “I’m not f*****g with white people”‘, James said, adding that he was ‘so institutionalized from growing up in the hood’
James (Pictured playing for St. Vinent-St. Mary in 2002) admitted it took him ‘a little while to adjust’ to the school
‘The hierarchy was here,’ the NBA legend said, lifting one hand above his head.
‘And then we’re here, matter of fact we’re underneath this chair,’ he continued, pointing his hand down to the floor.
James selected to attend the predominantly white school for basketball with Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce III, and Willie McGee, his teammates who had been dubbed the ‘Fab Four’ for their immense talent on the youth organized basketball circuit.
‘I’m like, “I’m going to this school to play ball, that’s it”‘, James recalled. ‘I want nothing to do with white people, it’s me and my boys.’
‘We’re going to high school together and we’re here to hoop. That was my initial thoughts and my initial shock to white America when I was 14 years old for the first time in my life.’
‘And that’s Catholic school, which is even whiter America,’ Jon Stewart, who also features in the premiere, interjected as everyone laughed. ‘There are levels to white America.’
James (pictured with Odell Beckham Jr and Maverick Carter) is an executive producer of new series The Shop, which aims to give viewers an ‘unprecedented barbershop experience’
The show promises to have ‘spirited, free-flowing discussions’ from big names who can speak on current events. Guests in the premiere included Draymond Green, Snoop Dogg, Vince Carter, Maverick Carter, Candace Parker, and Michael Bennett (all pictured with James)
James then admitted it took him ‘a little while to adjust’ to the school.
‘It’s hard to balance cause I’m a kid who plays this game at such a high level,’ he said.
‘You’re in your mind like, “Are they happy that I’m here because of who I am? Or because of my conversation that I can have with them.’
But Maverick Carter, a longtime friend of James’ who also played on the school’s basketball team, said everything changed by the end of that first year.
‘Sports and basketball is the most unifying theme,’ he said during the premiere, which also featured Draymond Green, Snoop Dogg, Odell Beckham Jr, and Candace Parker, among others.
‘By the end of the year all of us were best friends,’ he continued. ‘Our black friends in the hood was coming, his white friends – and we were just all having a great time.’
James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, as the first overall NBA draft pick in 2003. This summer he announced a move to the Los Angeles Lakers
James also revealed in the episode that high school was when he first found out what a pantry was as he discussed his culture shock.
‘Bread, cereal, chips, doughnuts, all that s**t is on the top of the refrigerator,’ he said. ‘When I got to high school was the first time when I knew about a pantry.’
James was already a rising star in the sports world by the time he arrived at St Vincent-St Mary High School, and it was there he cemented his status as the one to watch.
The teen was called ‘the best high school basketball player in America’ and even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He was also awarded Gatorade National Player of the Year and played in a number of televised all-star high school games.
James was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, as the first overall NBA draft pick in 2003.
The NBA legend, who also briefly played for the Miami Heat, announced this summer that he is moving to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
But James has still made it a point to give back to the community where he was raised, creating the I Promise School – which opened in July
James, who has won three NBA championships in his career, has called the school (pictured) his ‘greatest accomplishment’
But James has still made it a point to give back to the community where he was raised, creating the I Promise School – which opened in July.
The school, a joint project between his foundation and Akron Public Schools, is focused on helping Akron students from difficult backgrounds who qualify based on socioeconomic and performance factors.
By 2022, IPS hopes to teach students from first through eighth grade, but on Monday, it was just 240 third and fourth graders who were on-hand for the opening.
James, who has won three NBA championships, called the school his ‘greatest accomplishment’.
‘A championship is for a team, that’s for an organization and a city,’ he said before the school opened.
‘But these kids, this is for generation after generation after generation and it’s for these kids, so it means everything.’
James is an executive producer of new series The Shop, which aims to give viewers an ‘unprecedented barbershop experience’.
The show promises to have ‘spirited, free-flowing discussions’ from big names who can speak on sports, music, pop culture, and current events.
And viewers can expect to hear more unfiltered commentary from James, who has no plans to stop speaking out on social issues – even if it hurt his own popularity.
‘Now I get an opportunity to be the inspiration around what all of these kids are looking up to,’ James said on the debut episode.
‘And for me to just sit back and not say s**t when a lot of my peers didn’t say s**t? It didn’t feel right.’
‘At the end of the day, when I decided I was going to start speaking up and not giving a f**k about the backlash or if it affects me, my whole mindset was it’s not about me,’ he added.
‘My popularity went down. But at the end of the day, my truth to so many different kids and so many different people was broader than me personally.’