NEW CASTLE —
FAB FIVE FOR LIFE
James ended up forming what would prove to be lifelong bonds with his teammates, first while playing AAU ball together and later while attending St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Through grainy home movies, we see their friendships flourish at grade school sleepovers, birthday parties, road trips and, of course, shining in basketball tournaments. The fact that the African-American youths chose to leave the inner-city and attend a predominantly white Catholic school cemented their group even more.
“It was basketball, but it was more like friendship than anything,” James explains. “Our team was like a family. And you play hard for your family.”
As such, the film's most compelling moments occur away from the court.
•McGee opens up about both of his parents being drug addicts, and getting out of the Chicago housing projects to move in with his older brother, who had played for the University of Akron.
•James talks about his mother, Gloria, and how the pair never knew where they might live from month to month. Tear-jerker alert: With no father in the picture and his mom often away for weeks at a time, James selects his four teammates to escort him, arm in arm, to center court for senior night.
Whether you love or hate the current edition of LeBron in South Beach, you can’t help but be taken by the gangly youngster who was forced to grow up much faster than the years would dictate. From being on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior, to being ruled ineligible for a period of time as a senior, James maintained his infectious smile and sunny outlook in the midst of storms brewing all around him.
The dichotomy is no more apparent than quick edits of LeBron dancing on the team bus while mouthing the words to “In Da Club” by Fifty Cent, then shortly afterward facing hordes of reporters — wearing his ball cap backward and a throwback Joe Namath jersey — and skillfully fielding their tough questions.
We also see the developing leader in LeBron as he scolds Little Dru for not listening to his dad during practice.
I’m amazed that with everything James experienced growing up, by all accounts he now appears to be a fantastic teammate, and a doting father and family man.