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For Bronny James his father’s name is both a blessing and a curse

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Photograph: Jay LaPrete/AP

When, as a burgeoning high school basketball talent, LeBron James graced covers of magazines and newspapers, it was the American dream in the broadest sense: a life moving from poverty to prosperity. These covers contained promises that LeBron has since kept many times in Cleveland, Miami and Los Angeles. Now the 37-year-old seems to have everything from NBA titles to MVP awards. to film rolesown production company reported billion dollar fortune, wife and three children.

But speaking of these kids, what does it mean for them to be the descendants of one of the most famous people in the world? Well, LeBron Bronnie’s son is learning about it right now, especially when it comes to the 18-year-old’s dreams of following in his father’s footsteps as an NBA player. Bronnie was the same age as his father when LeBron decided to turn pro and enter his name in the NBA draft after graduating from high school (which is no longer allowed by league rules). Of course, it’s still early days for Bronnie, but the results are mixed. And while he’s almost certainly not going to be one of the best players of all time like LeBron, he’s already earned his fair share of accolades — something the sons of other legends like, say, Michael Jordan haven’t been able to achieve.

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“He would be the second best shooter on the Lakers’ current roster… RIGHT NOW,” wrote NBA analyst and former LeBron teammate Richard Jefferson tweeted in October a recent graphic clip of Bronnie showing the teenager dropping 31 points in his rookie season at the prestigious Sierra Canyon High School (although given the Lakers’ current struggles, that’s can’t be a huge compliment).

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“I love to watch him play” tweeted NBA veteran and analyst Jamal Crawford. “Sheesh!!!” tweeted Stephen Curry shares Bronnie’s big dunk this summer.

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But these words of praise are not all that fell to Bronnie’s lot. It’s an almost impossible line to walk when you’re a child of a legend. How can you really live up to expectations, how can you surpass your own father if he is LeBron James? In fact, LeBron, who fathered Bronnie when he was only 19, later says that regretted named his son after himself (Bronnie was born LeBron Raymon James Jr.) because of the pressure it puts on.

In a recent podcast, Bill Simmons and Brian Windhorst spoke about how LeBron could end his NBA career. Part of that, according to LeBron, will most likely (hopefully?) include teams up with Bronnie. But for Bronnie, who is a 6-foot-3 security guard seemingly not blessed with his father’s otherworldly talent, it might be a stretch.

“It seems like he has a chance,” Simmons said, “is to play in college for a few years and then potentially get into the league as someone who can be an athletic, defensive quarterback who can throw triples.”

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“He plays the game very well,” Windhorst added—not exactly a loud endorsement. Although, again, it’s too early (perhaps too early) to judge.

Is it enough to play “correctly”? Not only to get into the league, but to carry the burden of expectations, similar to Atlas? Maybe it will. When Bronnie was nine years old, then Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta joked that he should be offered a scholarship. By age 12, Bronnie reportedly received other scholarship offers. He has already signed NIL deals with Nike as well as Dre beatsand has millions Instagram followers. Ken Griffey Jr, who knows what it’s like to be the son of a sports legend, said he would be at the game when Bronnie and LeBron team up for real. That’s LeBron’s son bonus: attention. But attention does not make a career. Talent, skill and hard work do, after all.

Today, with his senior year mostly in full swing, Bronnie is considered four– (not five-) stellar talent, ranking in the mid-low double digits in his class. And there are doubters. Perhaps the most famous of them is LaVar Ball, who has three sons in the NBA and the G-League (Lonzo, LaMelo and Liangelo). Ball has previously said that the ghost of a superstar parent is too powerful for anyone.

“You have LeBron – it will be hard for his kids because they will look at them like this: “You have to be just like your father,” Ball. said in 2017. “And after a while, it starts to put pressure on you, like:“ Why should I be the same as him? That I can’t just be myself? And then they’ll be like, “Oh, you’re soft. You are not that good. Because the expectations are very, very high.”

Bronnie James (#0) celebrating Sierra Canyon victory in February
Bronnie James (#0) celebrates the Sierra Canyon victory in February. Photograph: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In football, Arch Manning, the nephew of legendary NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, is trying to continue the family name. So far, Arch has committed to playing quarterback at the prestigious University of Texas, and he ranked high as a rookie of 2023. But the pressure remains: he will always be compared to his Super Bowl-winning uncles. In the NBA and college basketball, many sons have gone the way on which is Bronnie (and his 15-year-old brother, bryce, maybe walk in a few years too). Steph and Seth Curry’s father, Dell, was a man of distinction, though not a star. These are Clay Thomson, Larry Nance Jr., Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Gary Payton II, Austin Rivers, Ron Harper Jr., Sharif O’Neal, Scottie Pippen Jr., James McAdoo, Jerami Grant, Cole Anthony and others. All who came from former NBA members. But son, maybe best ever? This is perhaps a different story.

“I think the only pressure I really feel is the pressure I put on myself,” Cole Anthony, a third-year quarterback with the Orlando Magic, tells The Guardian. “I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone else.”

Anthony, the son of former New York Knicks veteran point guard Greg Anthony, says there’s no added pressure to go by his father’s last name. Though he makes sure to pay tribute to Greg by wearing his #50 jersey (he averaged about 15 points per game in his first two years). But he says having a father and mother familiar with the inner workings of the NBA, as well as college basketball, was crucial in his hiring process.

“I know that many kids, especially those in high school age, can be overwhelmed,” Anthony says. “I give credit to my dad and mom for kind of handling my recruiting for me for the rest of my junior year. That’s when I started talking directly with the coaches. At that point, there were more than a few schools stuck around.”

But Anthony says that success in the NBA depends not only on having a big-name parent, but also on hard work combined with the pleasure of the game and the work itself. Without this, no last name will help to succeed in such a demanding environment.

“I would say that the main thing is just to work at full strength and, most importantly, to enjoy what you are doing,” he says. “The moment you stop enjoying it, the moment you stop enjoying it, that’s when you’re done. Once you mentally note something, it will be difficult to mentally check it again.”

With his deals approved and his highlights garnering millions of views, it seems, at least from the outside, that Bronnie is enjoying the fruits of his labor. He also recently appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated 20 years after my father. But other children of famous sports stars such as Trevor Gretzky never attempted a major sports career. Trevor, son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, actor. And Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, having fought with Elite sports pressure themselves, would prefer that their children generally stay away from their parents’ former profession.

“Tennis? I just think we’ve had enough, to be honest.” Agassi said in 2011 (his son Jaden, however, promising baseball player). “It’s a strange sport. We don’t see too many second generation players. For us, it’s about raising our children in a way that we can participate in their lives and not always worry about their lives.”

And it’s this lack of stress that Anthony sees as crucial if players like Bronnie want to succeed, but perhaps more importantly, enjoy their careers.

“Try to always find joy in everything you do,” he says. “Be it an athlete, but it doesn’t have to be an athlete. Just work hard and have fun.”


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