It’s hard to remember a time when LeBron James wasn’t a world famous athlete with hundreds of millions of dollars in his bank account and endorsement deals galore. But you can bet that LeBron still remembers. Those early struggles during his formative years in Northeast Ohio have had a tremendous influence on who he is as a person.
That’s why one of his more recent endorsements has brought back some of those old memories. During his senior year at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s, LeBron made waves when he arrived on the scene in a brand new Hummer H2 that was a gift from his mother Gloria for his 18th birthday.
Now, LeBron has come full circle as the voice for GMC’s all-electric Hummer EV.
OH MY GOODNESS @GMC!!! 😱 I cannot wait to get my hands on one these. Sheesh!! 🔥 Crabwalk?!?! Brings back so many great memories from my first Hummer and I’m excited to make more in the #GMCHummerEV 👑 pic.twitter.com/VjO2qXHqMY
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 20, 2020
Back in 2003, it caused all sorts of hand-wringing and self-righteous posturing from those who chaffed at the notion of an 18-year-old driving such an ostentatious vehicle. Even worse, it prompted an investigation from the Ohio High School Athletics Association, which had rules in place against athletes receiving gifts worth more than $100.
The OHSAA eventually ruled that the gift was okay, given that his mother had taken out a loan to make the purchase, but it ignited a debate about the ongoing controversy about whether high school and college athletes should be allowed to earn money from their craft, with public sentiment increasingly siding with the athletes over the years, so many of whom come from low-income backgrounds.
It’s an idea that the ad cleverly calls back to with LeBron’s opening lines: “The real revolutionaries…are the ones that change the game forever.” Nearly 20 years later, the debate rages on, and LeBron’s latest endorsement is reminder of just how far he’s come, but also how much work there’s still left to do.