CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had a good reason for missing practice Wednesday. He became a father.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star guard and his longtime girlfriend, a 19-year-old Akron woman, had a baby boy Wednesday. No other details were
James left the team's training camp in Columbus to be with her and his new son. He was expected to rejoin the team Thursday as he prepares for his
second NBA season.
During the team's media day Monday at Gund Arena, James wouldn't comment when asked if he were about to become a father. He has always been guarded
about his private life.
Fatherhood should fit James well. The reigning rookie of the year, who turns 20 in December, is most relaxed when he is among children. This summer,
he donated money to refurbish basketball courts and youth community centers in Akron. He has also donated supplies to the city's schools.
James was raised as an only child by his mother Gloria, who was estranged from James' father when he was a youngster
"That's my main goal, to try and be a better father than the one I had," James told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I didn't know him. I didn't know the
situation he was in. But I'm going to do my job the best way I can."
The identity of James' father has always been mysterious. The paper reported he has died.
Another father figure in James' life, Eddie Jackson, is serving a three-year prison term for mortgage and mail fraud.
On Monday, James said he matured as a result of having played a year in the pros and because of his experience of being on the U.S. Olympic team. He
knows being a dad will make him grow up even more.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity in life."