LeBron James Family History


LeBron Raymone James was born on December 30th, 1984 to Gloria Mae James and Anthony McClelland in Akron, Ohio.  His mother was just sixteen at the time of his birth and still in high school.  His biological father then disappeared from the scene.  He had a criminal record which was to haunt him for the rest of his life.

When LeBron was three, his grandmother Freda died on Christmas Day of a heart attack. This event really devastated Gloria because she had no one around her to support her and her child.  So, struggling to find work as a single mom. she allowed her son to move in with the family of Frank Walter, a youth football coach.  It was he who introduced LeBron to basketball at the age of nine.

LeBron began playing basketball with three of his boyhood friends and achieved some local fame before entering high school.  He ended his high school career as one of the most highly touted NBA draft picks ever.

His professional career began after he was the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2010).  During his first stint with his hometown team he rose to superstardom status as a player, but was unable to lead the Cavaliers to win an NBA championship title.
  • Miami Heat (2010-2014).  Here he was successful twice with back-to-back victories in championship finals.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2018).  Returning to the Cavaliers, he was able to lead them to their first ever victory in championship finals.
  • Los Angeles Lakers (from 2018).  His fourth NBA championship title came with the Lakers in the 2019-2020 season.

On the basis of his career longevity and his on-court performances, LeBron James has been ranked among the finest basketball players who have ever played the game, up there with his idol Michael Jordan.

A Maternal Ancestry

LeBron’s biological father Anthony McClelland was a non-factor in his life.  Little is known about his origins except that he was African American and had some Native American blood in him.

Instead, it has been the women who have been the glue in his family tree:

  • his mother Gracie Mae James who supported LeBron as a single mom and is still his support today
  • his grandmother Freda James nee Golson, married twice, who was Gracie’s rock until her unexpected death in 1987
  • his great grandmother Constance Delores Golson nee Gay who outlived both of her husbands and died in 1986
  • and his two times great grandmother Marie Gay nee Anderson who made the migration from Tennessee to Ohio in the early 1920’s.  She died relatively young in 1945, but still outlived her husband by four years.

Before that there was the mysterious Cora Fuller.  She was born in Tennessee in 1892, reportedly – according to some family trees – the daughter of Edward Vernon Jordan of Goochland county, Virginia.  She married John Anderson in 1910, bore him three children (including Marie), and later moved to Virginia.

All the men have been peripheral in LeBron’s family tree, with one surprising exception – John Anderson who was white.

He was fifty when he married the eighteen year old Cora in Tennessee.  But he came with his three children (including Marie) when they migrated from Tennessee to Ohio, attended Marie’s wedding in Cleveland in 1926, and was the grandfather at the age of seventy residing at her Cleveland home in 1930.

From the South to Ohio

LeBron has classic African American Great Migration heritage, with two branches of his family tree having made their way from the South to Cleveland in the early 1900’s:

  • the Gay family was first, arriving from Conyers, Georgia in the 1910’s
  • and some years later the Andersons arrived there from Hardeman county in Tennessee.

Prior to Cleveland, the parents of Leroy Gay in Conyers, Georgia had been Ben and Levesta Gay. both African Americans; while the parents of Marie Anderson in Tennessee were mixed race – John Anderson white and Cora Fuller black.

The two families were united through the marriage of Leroy Gay and Marie Anderson in 1926.  In the 1930 census three generations of this family – Marie’s father John, Marie’s siblings George and Olivia as well as Marie and her husband Leroy, and their two children Leroy and Elinor – were all recorded as living together at their home in Cleveland.  Soon afterwards the family moved to Akron, Ohio.

During the 1910’s and 1920’s Akron had become a boom town, known as the Rubber Capital of the world because of the four major tire companies located there.  Over that time the African American presence was growing and race became an issue because of the presence of the Klu Klux Klan.  The Great Depression of the 1930’s then hit the town particularly hard.

Marie and Leroy Gay lived through those times, raising seven children in the process.  They both died relatively young – Leroy at thirty-four in 1941 and Marie at the same age in 1945.  Their daughter Delores, born in 1931, was over her lifetime to marry two men from Alabama and live until 1986.  The line from her led to LeBron’s grandmother Freda and his mother Gloria.

LeBron James’s Maternal Family Tree

  • Cora Fuller (black 1892-1968), born in Tennessee and died in Virginia, and John Anderson (white b. 1860), born in Tennessee and died in Ohio; married in 1910; subsequently divorced
  • – Marie Anderson (1911-1945), migrated to Ohio
  • – George Anderson (b. 1913), migrated to Ohio
  • – Olivia Anderson (b. 1917), migrated to Ohio
  • Frances Marie Anderson from Hardeman county, Tennessee m. Leroy Gay (1907-1941) from Conyers, Georgia in Ohio in 1926
  • – Leroy Gay (b. 1927)
  • – Elinor Gay (b. 1929)
  • – Delores Gay (1931-1986)
  • – Gloria Gay (b. 1933)
  • – Grant Gay (b. 1934)
  • – Carole Gay (b. 1936)
  • Constance Delores Gay from Cleveland m. James Foreman (1921-1983) in 1948, divorced in 1961: rem. George Golson (1921-1978) in 1961, both from Alabama
  • – Freda Golson (1946-1987)
  • Freda Golson m. Willie Lee James, divorced in 1968; rem. David Howard
  • – Gloria James (b. 1968)
  • – and two sons Curt and Terry
  • Gloria Mae James and Anthony McClelland in Akron
  • – LeBron James (b. 1984)
  • LeBron James m. Savannah Brinson (b. 1986) in Akron in 2013 (were together from high school)
  • – LeBron (Bronny) James Jr (b. 2004)
  • – Bryce James (b. 2007)
  • – Zhuri James (b. 2014)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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