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The rise of LeBron James

Updated 10:21 PM ET, Sun July 1, 2018
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Basketball superstar LeBron James, one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, announced Sunday that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and signing a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
James drives to the hoop in 2002 as he plays for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. James was already starting to become a household name in high school, and ESPN was even airing some of his games. Stephen Albanese/Getty Images
James shouts instructions during a 2003 game against Mater Dei High School in Los Angeles. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
James, right, plays for St.Vincent-St.Mary in 2003. He would go straight from high school to the NBA, becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Bruce Schwartzman/AP
James poses in front of a Hummer after a news conference at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in April 2003. Tony Dejak/AP
James poses with his new Cleveland Cavaliers jersey after he was drafted in June 2003. Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
James goes for a dunk during an October 2003 game in Sacramento, California. In his first year in the NBA, he won the league's Rookie of the Year Award. Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
James, left, takes a portrait with fellow NBA All-Stars Kobe Bryant, right, and Kevin Garnett in February 2005. James has been an All-Star every year since. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
James grimaces during a game against Milwaukee in January 2007. Morry Gash/AP
James looks over backpacks at Sam's Club in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, in August 2007. James runs a nonprofit organization called the LeBron James Family Foundation, which helps needy children in his hometown area. Phil Long/AP
U.S. basketball players receive their gold medals after they defeated Spain at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. From left are Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, James, Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd. James would also win a gold medal on the 2012 Olympic team. Eric Gay/AP
James stands on stage with rapper Jay-Z during the "Last Chance For Change" concert in Cleveland in October 2008. The event was part of the presidential campaign for Barack Obama. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
James goes to the basket during a March 2009 game against the Boston Celtics. James won the NBA's Most Valuable Player Award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Winslow Townson/AP
In July 2010, James speaks at the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. It was there that he announced, live on an ESPN program called "The Decision," that he would be leaving Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat. Larry Busacca/Getty Images
From left, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and James are introduced to Miami Heat fans during a welcome party in Miami in July 2010. Doug Benc/Getty Images
James performs his famous pregame ritual -- throwing crushed chalk into the air -- before a Heat preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs in October 2010. Eric Gay/AP
James celebrates with the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy after the Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the NBA title in June 2012. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Fans hold a sign commemorating James' 20,000th career point, which he scored in January 2013 against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, California. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
James presents President Obama with a jersey while the Heat were being honored at the White House in January 2013. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
James goes up for a dunk against the Philadelphia 76ers in March 2013. Matt Slocum/AP
James appears on a Nike poster outside American Airlines Arena in Miami in May 2013. In 2014, James was named the World's Most Powerful Athlete. He has endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Upper Deck, Samsung, Audemars Piguet and Dunkin' Donuts. Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images
James holds the Finals MVP trophy and the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy after the Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs to win back-to-back titles in June 2013. Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
James attends the 2013 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles with his future wife, Savannah Brinson. They have two children. Christopher Polk/Getty Images
James adjusts a protective mask he wore in March 2014 to protect a broken nose. Alan Diaz/AP
James competes against the San Antonio Spurs during the NBA Finals in June 2014. The Spurs won the series and prevented the Heat from winning three straight titles. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
James reacts on the bench during the NBA Finals in June 2014. Later that month, he became a free agent. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
James cries and hugs and teammate Kevin Love after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
James talks to teammate JR Smith in Game One of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
James drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant during the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports