Did lebron james play football ? To start the 2022 college football season, the Ohio State Buckeyes played Notre Dame in showdown of two top-five teams at the time. And on the sidelines was one of the biggest sports stars in the world in Ohio State Buckeye superfan LeBron James. The Akron native and current star of the Los Angeles Lakers attended the game with his son Bronny James, who is considering playing basketball for Ohio State.
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As Ohio State, now 3-0 on season, was preparing to play Wisconsin in the 2022 Big Ten opener, James asked on Twitter if he still had college eligibility if he wanted to play another sport.
James was once a talented football player at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary before he decided to focus on basketball. James was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school and went on to be the No.1 player taken in the NBA draft in 2003.
He’s gone on to have one of the greatest careers in basketball and sports history. But could he play football (or any other sport) in college?
Does LeBron James still have college eligibility?
Perhaps the best case to look at is by James’ former teammate J.R. Smith, who played 16 season in the NBA. Smith retired and decided he wanted to play golf at North Carolina A&T. Smith was ruled eligible to play despite his professional career as a basketball player.
LeBron James Says Why He Didn’t Play HS Football His Senior Year on Instagram
The best basketball player of his era had all the tools to earn that moniker on the gridiron as well. Now James has admitted why that wasn’t the case—and why he stopped playing after his junior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron: His fellow basketball teammates threatened to beat him up if he tried to strap on the pads again.
In an Instagram post on Saturday night, James showed off a feature from his football playing days as a wide receiver and gave his explanation for leaving that sport behind.
“[My teammates] said if I tried to step on a football field my senior year they would jump(kick my a**) me every day of practice until I had enough!” James wrote. “Think I made a smart decision! Ha! Anyways you LB/CB/S can thank my homies I stayed over in the hoops lane or would have been plenty of highlights ‘Moss’d’ on y’all.”
The teammates he tagged were Sian Cotton, Brandon Weems, Dru Joyce, Romeo Travis and Frankie Walker, with whom James is still close. Still, after posting 57 catches for 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, it’s easy to imagine what he could have done as a senior—let alone in college or the pros.
It’s safe to say things worked out for James anyways, but if he still has an urge to get back on the football field, the Cleveland Browns would surely be happy to give him a spot on the roster.
LeBron James on choosing basketball over football
LeBron James played wide receiver at St. Vincent-St. Mary, making first team all-state as a sophomore. As a junior, LeBron had 57 receptions for 1,160 yards and 16 touchdowns. James and his team made it to the semifinals that season, finishing 10-4.
In the embedded tweet below, James’ high school quarterback shared stories about their time playing football together.
James’ itch for football remained far after his success in the NBA. In 2011, James and Kevin Durant joined for a flag football classic. Held at the University of Akron, LeBron and KD got squads of their friends and battled it out on the field.
Also, in 2011 James mulled joining the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. After the 2011 NBA Finals, in which James and his Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA was on its way to a lockout. During the delay, the Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks invited LeBron for a workout. According to an interview with The Athletic, LeBron “seriously considered” the offer to try out for Dallas.
With how legendary James has been on the basketball court, proving his all-around athleticism night after night, seeing him on the football field would be something else. Known for his immense speed for his size, LeBron would make fun of running routes and blasting past defenders.
In his 19th season in the NBA, at 37 years old, James is averaging 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. James is also averaging a career-high 2.8 3-pointers per game, shooting at 35.5% accuracy from deep. He is on an 18-game streak of scoring 25 points or more.
James has won four NBA championships, four NBA Finals MVP awards and four MVP awards
How LeBron James annoyed his high school football coaches by being too good
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 ftw.usatoday.com.
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.
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.
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