AKRON, OH - A man who played a pivotal role in Lebron James’ childhood says he always knew the “boy from Akron” was destined for greatness.
Dru Joyce, one of Lebron’s high school basketball coaches, says he had no doubt he would bring a championship to Northeast Ohio.
"The time that I spent with him was precious," Joyce told Fox 8.
Dru Joyce says he met Lebron James when he was nine years old, while coaching a summer basketball camp in Akron.
Joyce later became the assistant basketball coach, then head coach at St. Vincent - St. Mary High School during Lebron's high school career.
"I always understood and knew how hard he worked at it, how much he loved it, and so I always believed that he believed that, you know, that he was gonna be a champion, and he's gonna win NBA Championships," Joyce said.
Dru Joyce says he was elated when Lebron fulfilled his promise to Northeast Ohio Sunday night, and led the Cavs to their first championship. He says as a coach, his relationship focused on more than basketball, but he used the sport to help boys like Lebron grow into men.
"If I lived that kind of life in front of him, that he wanted to emulate, then I'm honored... I know at one point, he shared with my wife and I that we were his role models and that was special to us," said the former coach.
Joyce says he always remembered Lebron as focused and observant...doing everything to stay on the right path.
"When you do the right things, good things happen...I'm a firm believer in sowing and reaping...I think he sowed some positive seeds along the way and he's now reaping some of the benefits," he said.
Joyce says he stays in touch with Lebron James, mainly through text messages. He says his role in Lebron's life has developed from coach to dedicated fan.
"We wanted it really bad, but it was all on his shoulders to kind of bring, and to see it happen for him, I just felt so much elation and joy," Joyce said.
Joyce, who still coaches at the high school says he looks at coaching as a sacred responsibility.
"You never know really how much, how well you've done with a player until ten or twelve years later and, you know ten or twelve years later, I texted him last night and said I can be proud that I coached the best player on the planet," said Joyce.