LeBron and his wife, Savanna Brinson, are the definitely cutest couple in the NBA. From high school sweethearts to a modern empire of sports and philanthropy; here’s a look into their inspirational story.
The year was 1984, the date was December 30th, and 16-year-old Gloria Marie James from Akron, Ohio, had a baby boy whom she named LeBron. With a criminal record and complete lack of involvement in the baby's life, Anthony McClelland, LeBron's father, was hardly a model parent.
Other than the help of her own mother, Gloria raised LeBron as a single mother. The first crisis came when Gloria was 19, and her mother passed away from a sudden heart attack.
The small family struggled quite a bit and moved from one slum to the next in Akron. Obviously, finding a steady job for a woman in Gloria's position was next to impossible.
Supporting her own son was becoming harder and harder. She realized that for both of their sakes, he had to grow up somewhere else. She eventually had to make the difficult decision of moving her son somewhere more stable.
The stable environment LeBron ended up in was the home of Frank Walker and his family. Walker was the coach of a youth football team and little LeBron's first doorway into sports. When James was just nine years old, it was Walker who introduced him to basketball — an introduction that would surely change his life.
From then on, James played basketball regularly. Most notably, in the Northeast Ohio Shooting Stars (which played for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)). The team was both a local and national success.
The Fast and Fabulous
When he was still playing for the Shooting Stars, he was one of the self-proclaimed "Fab Four" — four teammates who led the group with a strong bond between them: Willie McGee, Dru Joyce III, and Sian Cotton.
Their bond extended past the basketball court, and they made a mutual decision to move on to the same high school. The establishment they chose? A private Catholic school called St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which had a vast majority of white students.
The first thing on LeBron's agenda when attending St. Vincent-St. Mary High School was joining the sports teams. Dominating any kind of ball on any kind of field. He was a prominent player in the school's basketball team as well as the football team. In fact, if it wasn't for the wrist injury that made him quit football, sports analysts say he could have made it to the NFL!
His basketball talent couldn't be ignored, and his team relied on it when crushing rival teams left and right. Little did James know, one of those rival schools was where he would find the love of his life.
On August 27th, 1986, JK Brinson and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed their youngest daughter, Savannah, into the world. As the youngest of five siblings, Savannah has experienced a very active family life from a very young age.
Savannah recalls her childhood home always being open. Kids or friends of her siblings' who had any kind of trouble at home were taken in by her parents for as long as they needed. She absorbed these values and would carry them on with her later in life as well.
An Athlete in Her Own Right
Brinson was a student in a rival Akron school. Much like LeBron, she was quite an athlete herself, with places on the school's softball team as well as the cheerleading squad.
At 16 years old, and with that kind of social profile, Savannah must have had to turn down offers from boys in her school left and right. It seems that what she really needed was actually attending a different high school at the time.
The First Meeting
The competitive sports scene in Akron, Ohio, was about to get its first power couple when 17-year-old James met 16-year-old Savannah.
In an interview the couple gave to "Vogue" in 2017, Lebron was asked to replay that first meeting from memory. Impressively, he recalled Savannah wearing a black and pink ensemble, but neither he nor she remembers what he wore that day.
Thank God for Wingmen
Although LeBron and Savannah cheered for different teams and played for rival schools, LeBron didn't let that bother him and pursued her anyway.
Well, "pursued" may not be the right word here, actually. You see, the would-be basketball legend had a hard time mustering up the courage to ask Savannah out, so he asked a friend to act as his wingman.
Can I Have Your Number?
His friend didn't disappoint, and sure enough, he approached Savannah and asked for her number in James' stead. Funnily enough, her initial response was to say no and to ask for *his* number so she can be the one to decide if she's interested and wants to make a move or not. What a boss!
It took a beat for Savannah to actually make the call. As she recalls, it wasn't a dramatic decision. She was sitting around, doing nothing special, when she remembered she had the number for a guy that seemed interested. She figured she'd give it a try.
On and off Court
Being the high-school athletes they were, it was only fitting for LeBron to invite Savannah to watch him play basketball. She came over to one of his matches and was pleasantly surprised — the boy had skills and was a local hotshot.
After the game, Savannah got to hang out with LeBron and his friends at an Applebee’s. The two could size each other up in a friendly atmosphere, which paved the way for their very first official date.
The First Date
The couple's first date was to an Outback Steakhouse dinner. Pretty nice for a couple of high schoolers! All in all, it was a pretty good date, but Savannah was more impressed by what happened after they left the place.
Apparently, dinner was quite large, so Savannah asked to pack up her leftovers. Except she forgot to take them with her. But her knight in shiny jersey brought them to her, which was an absolute act of modern-day chivalry if you ask us.
Respecting the Curfew
Teenage LeBron knew that one of the best ways to win a girl is to get on her parents' good graces. It was important for him to impress Savannah's father by showing him he follows the rules.
After getting the usual dad spiel (bring her back home on time, don't try anything funny — you know, the usual), he made sure her family knew he wasn't just playing around. He had her home on time and got her parents' approval.
Personality, Not Publicity
Back in the day, LeBron didn't have much but his athletic abilities. No cameras, no fat bank account, and no fans but those who cheered for his school's team. But Savannah didn't need any glitz or glamour of the sort.
In a 2018 interview James gave to the "Hollywood Reporter," he expressed his immense gratitude for this. He said that she stuck with him right from the start and that no interview would have happened if it wasn't for her.
Welcome to the NBA
2003 was a big year for LeBron, and not just because it was his senior year. It was also the year when he was the top pick in the NBA draft.
While Savannah obviously knew he was talented, she had no idea he was NBA-level talented. Hometown stardom would have been okay with her, but he was destined for greater things. Before the couple knew, James started playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A Busy First Season
The rookie season of any NBA player must be an intense and stressful experience. You're in with the Big League, you have a much stricter schedule to keep up with, and generally, you have to face high expectations more than ever before.
LeBron's first season was about to become a lot more intense when he and Savannah learned that she was pregnant. That's right; all the pressure was topped off with being first-time parents.
Hiding the Bump
18-year-old Savannah had quite the baby bump to carry around at her prom. She was five months along at that point and designed a dress that would hide it to the best of her ability.
The dress had a halter top, rhinestones, and a mermaid bottom. At the time, it was quite fashionable, but in retrospect, Savannah says it looked terrible. Don't worry, Savannah, it's not you; it's fashion!
Scared and Soothed
When finding out about the pregnancy, Savannah admits to being nervous. She was scared of telling her parents and of what it might do to her boyfriend's glamorous new career. Honestly? We probably would have reacted similarly.
It was LeBron who put her mind at ease. He assured her that having this baby is not going to slow either of them down and that they would keep doing what they have to do. We now know he's a man of his word.
And Then Came Bronny
The couple welcomed their son into the world on October 6th, 2004. They named him LeBron James, Jr., but he is fondly nicknamed Bronny. The kid has sports embedded into his genes, and he definitely brings great honor to the family name.
Just like his father, Bronny played lots of sports from a young age until he ultimately turned his entire focus to basketball. The young player started drawing international attention in 2014 and currently plays for his high school team. (Although he probably has an NBA stint waiting for him as well.)
On June 14th, three years after Bronny was born, he was joined by a new baby brother — Bryce Maximus, after the lead character in James' favorite film — "Gladiator."
LeBron, who was 22 years old at the time, was by Savannah's side as she braved the delivery and still made it to the next morning's practice. He was a little sleepy, obviously, but pulled through.
Welcome to Miami
For better or for worse, sports fans are emotional. Their loyalty to a certain team can be overwhelming sometimes, and Savannah and James experienced it firsthand in 2010. That was the year when LeBron decided to move from the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, to Miami.
Cleveland's fans were outraged to hear that their favorite player was switching teams and made their voices heard. Some have even recorded themselves burning his jersey. Savannah was rightfully disappointed with her husband's fans for those unfair acts.
Just Put a Ring on It!
By this point in time, LeBron and Savannah had been together for many years, had two kids together, and had been as committed as any long-term, mutually-exclusive couple. For some reason, however, there were no rings of vowes involved.
Not to be the pesky aunt or anything, but what would it take to get these two lovebirds to finally tie the official knot? Apparently, time just needed to do its own thing eventually.
The press has approached Savannah with similar questions. On her part, knew that all LeBron needed to feel ready was some space to make his own decision. While the couple did speak of marriage from time to time, she never rushed him.
They were comfortable with the way things were. And if they were going to walk down the aisle eventually, they wanted it to be for life.
She's the One
It's important to remember that despite the national fame and glamorous career, the two were no more than teenagers when they first met. They had some mutual growing up to do (or at least, LeBron had) to pledge their allegiance to each other.
LeBron had to take some time to reflect, and in a moment of growth, he grasped the massive place Savannah has had in his life how she's been with him through it all. He then made the decision to ask her to keep spending the rest of her life with him.
LeBron planned the proposal for New Year's Eve of 2011. The two were at an exclusive event in France. Throughout the evening, the ring was kept by James' friend and teammate Dwyane Wade, as per LeBron's request.
When the ball dropped, the couple kissed, the ring was back in LeBron's hands, and he popped the ultimate question. Savannah said yes, and the two started the new year as an engaged couple.
She Knew It Was Coming
While Savannah seemed incredibly chill about being ringless for so long, she could sense the proposal was coming. Also, LeBron's recollection of the proposal isn't the typical kind of romantic, but it's romantic nonetheless.
As LeBron recalls, right after the ball dropped, he simply asked her, "Are you ready?" to which she jokingly replied, "If you don't give me that ring right now, I won't do it."
In 2013, after nearly two years of engagement bliss, the couple said their "I Dos." The event took place in San Diego, started on September 14th, and stretched over three whole days.
The couple celebrated with 200 of their closes friends and family and wrapped up the festivities with a farewell brunch. It sounds like the bash of the century!
The Guest List
NBA gentry, as well as other Hollywood A-listers, attended the star-studded guest list. LeBron's teammates from Miami Heat were there, including his friends Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who came with his partner — actress Gabrielle Union.
Other attendees were Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and coach Erik Spoelstra. And that's not all — the reception featured a live performance of Beyoncé and Jay-Z singing "Crazy in Love." Yup, that's how big it was.
Changed for the Better
By 2014, LeBron was already a longtime father and husband with an established career. He's grown into a mature, responsible adult, and it seemed like nothing could change him. And then he had a daughter. LeBron and Savannah welcomed Zhuri Nova into the world on October 22nd, 2014, and James' life changed completely.
According to James, people have always told him that having a daughter would change him. That proved to be true, and he says that fathering her has made him a better, stronger, more dedicated person. He feels a much greater responsibility toward the women in his life.
Zhuri the Diva
Little Zhuri is not even a teenager yet, but she knows enough to leverage her family name into her own independent stardom. The young girl has her own YouTube channel called "All Things Zhuri," where she regularly posts videos for her 200,000+ (!) subscribers to watch.
The videos include bits of her everyday life with her family and friends, and her loving parents are obviously heavily featured in there too.
Going Back Home
In 2014, James announced that he was coming back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, much to the enjoyment of the team's fans. He and Savannah were able to go back to where they first fell in love.
Not only did he say he's returning, but he also promised to grant the city a championship. As we said before, the guy is a man of his word. Sure enough, in 2016, he kept his promise as the team won the NBA Finals.
It is pretty clear that in the James household, Savannah is the one maintaining the lowest profile. With her following, her status, and her good looks, she could easily be a spotlight magnet, but that's not really her scene.
She participates in an occasional photoshoot and walks the red carpet every once in a while, but in-depth interviews are few and far between. As she puts it, those situations are a bit out of her comfort zone and make her clam up. Good thing LeBron can handle the press well enough for both of them.
Although living a relatively private life, there is one thing she's willing to be public about. Back in her hometown, Savannah turned her focus toward the community she grew up in. One way to do it was through establishing a mentorship program for local teenage girls called "Akron: Women of Our Future."
Her philanthropic endeavors didn't stop there, and the whole family became involved. Together with her husband, Savannah started the "LeBron James Family Foundation," which went on to do some good deeds in this world. Just like her parents taught her.
The foundation, headed by the kind couple, lent out a helping hand wherever it possibly could. One of their main focuses is children and their education. This is why they've established the "I Promise School" — a public elementary school operating in Akron, Ohio.
Targeting youth at risk and supporting their education, the foundation also helps the youth stay in school and secure a better future.
From Prom Dresses to Scholarships
Another thing that Savannah does with the help of the foundation is called "I PROMise Makeover." This annual event, founded by Savannah, provides prom dresses to underprivileged teens.
To this day, underprivileged students of the University of Akron, Ohio, have enjoyed more than $40 million in scholarships donated by the LeBron James Family Foundation. LeBron and Savannah have made a real impact on the place that brought them together.
Savannah strongly believes that children need constant encouragement, no matter what. Speaking to "Vogue" about her philanthropic ventures, she said, "Just constantly encourage them and set them on the right path when it comes to sports or their schoolwork or nurturing a hobby [...] That's what LeBron talks about — never give up."
No doubt, James definitely knew how to make the right choice of a woman as the mother of his children and a life companion.
Very Much in Love
In 2018, the couple celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, and boy oh boy, does LeBron know how to show his love for his wifey.
James contacted singer/songwriter Daniel Caesar and had him come over and perform in their living room. Caesar sang his hit, "Best Part," to the emotional Savannah, and the whole touching event got a special Instagram story so everyone else can swoon as well.
A King and His Queen
As a hometown hero, Savannah gave an interview to "Cleveland Magazine" and spoke about her relationship with her basketballing hubby. Just listening to her talking about him is enough to make your heart melt.
Savannah gushed over how humble and respectful he is and how hard it is not to love him. “He is truly a king to his queen,” said Savannah, “With the way that he is with me and the kids and his mom and just everyone who’s around him.”
She's the Boss
Parenting is a balancing act. Parents (even ones who are constantly in the spotlight) need to know how to present a united and supportive front in front of their kids. They need to find the middle ground between being soft and being stern.
Since LeBron has such a high-profile career, Savannah is the one laying down the law at the James household. She is in charge of the rules and discipline, and LeBron trusts her mothering skills even when he has to be away for long periods of time.
I'm a Cool Mom
One of the advantages of having kids early is parents that are youthful and energetic enough to keep up with them. And as per Savannah, LeBron runs around and plays with them just like another member of the same pack.
Still, she claims that she's a "cool mom," letting her kids listen to Lady Gaga. Between that and her adorable appearances in Zhuri's YouTube videos, we totally believe her.
Growing up in the spotlight can create a pretty warped world perception. But Savannah makes sure her kids are as down to earth as possible and have a more realistic point of view.
They are all taught the values of responsibility, trustworthiness, and education (both personal and academic). And while the kids do enjoy the kind of luxury other children can only dream of, some things must be earned, like cellphones, which the James kids get only when they turn thirteen.
Social Media Moguls
Little Zhuri is not the only James being an internet sensation. The perfect family life modeled by the James clan can be found across all social media platforms. You can find LeBron, Savannah, and the kids get excited about #TacoTuesday and perform goofy TikTok routines all over the internet.
In fact, in September 2019, LeBron became Instagram's most-followed basketball player. He currently boasts more than 75 million of them. Bronny, in case you were wondering, has nearly 6 million, and Savannah is approaching 2 million.
The couple's 2020 anniversary was celebrated in a slightly different way. Since most of the NBA teams and their families had to spend an extended period of time in a sterile perimeter, they couldn't go out and do something special.
Fortunately, the perimeter was located within the borders of Disney World, Florida. While the couple couldn't treat themselves to a fancy vacation, they did spend it in a Disney suite with Mickey Mouse themed desserts. How adorable!
Come One Come All
The James family home, just like Savannah's childhood home, is big on hospitality. They enjoy having friends and family over in their huge LA mansion.
Guests at casa de James are warmly welcome and often encouraged to stay for dinner even if they only go for lunch or a friendly cup of coffee. We'd love to get an invitation, but we're sure there's a whole waiting list to invite first. (Though we don't mind waiting...)
Growing up with a single mother and no siblings means that LeBron could barely piece together a family to call his own. Many people who didn't have a family as a role model fail to create their own functioning families as adults.
However, James is now happily married and has three children who are proud to call him and Savannah "mom" and "dad." He is able to give his children the kind of family life he's never had as a child.
Having a high profile career and millions of fans worldwide can understandably make anyone become arrogant and self-absorbed. It's easy to think of yourself as a god when everyone treats you like one.
However, LeBron always stays humble and gets excited by the smallest things like a family dinner or shooting hoops with his kids. His secret? His wife and family. As he puts it, they keep him grounded.
Coming from a difficult background and a mother who, despite her best intentions, struggled greatly to raise him, LeBron has an immense appreciation for the place he's in right now.
He supports his own family, children, the love of his life, and he is able to give his mother all the things she wasn't able to give him when he was growing up. And we all know that a man who treats his mother well knows how to treat his wife well.
Keep It Up
Ever since that faithful day in 2002, LeBron and Savannah haven't left each other's side. The two high school sweethearts have lived through it all together — children, career changes, overwhelming fame, and more — with grace, dignity, and unbelievable humility.
Their love, dedication, and acceptance they have for one another can be a role model for any couple, let alone couples who are constantly in the spotlight. We are sure they will keep modeling that beautiful relationship for many years to come.