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LeBron James Talks About His Father to Sports Illustrated

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Former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James is featured in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. In it the NBA star opens up about his first season on the Miami Heat, growing up without a father and life beyond the basketball court.

James says after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Championship he locked himself in his bedroom for two weeks. He tells Sports Illustrated senior writer Lee Jenkins it was to avoid all references to his failure.

“I couldn’t watch TV because every channel—doesn’t matter if it was the Cartoon Channel—was talking about me and the Heat. On the Cooking Channel it was like, ‘So we’re going to make a turkey burger gourmet today, and LeBron James failed!’” During this he also shunned the razor growing a beard “I looked like Tom Hanks in Castaway” he told Jenkins.

James says since that time he’s stopped avoiding scrutiny and has chosen to focus on the game. The Miami Heat are playoff-bound and had the second best record in the Eastern Conference in 2012, yet says critics continue to highlight his failures on the court. The guard-forward says instead of internalizing what critics say, this season he’s focusing on enjoying the game and not letting his teammates down.

“This is what you love to do and you’ve been doing it at a high level for a long time, and you don’t really need to change anything. Just get back to what you do and how you play, smiling all the time and trying to dominate at the highest level. Do it with joy and do it with fun and remember not too long ago this was a dream for you. Playing in the NBA was the dream. Don’t forget that again. Just go out and improve.” he says.

LeBron James’ latest cover comes more than 10 years after he was first featured in Sports Illustrated as a high school junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. He was called “The Chosen One” on the cover.