LeBron James’ high school basketball jersey has sold for over half a million dollars at Juliens Auctions in Los Angeles.
The jersey had been described as “a holy grail of LeBron James memorabilia”.
James wore it in 2002, when he became the first high school underclassman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, announcing himself on the national stage as a future NBA superstar.
The jersey sold for $512,000, setting a new world record price for a high school basketball jersey at auction.
The record was held by US Pesident Barack Obama’s jersey, worn as a member of the 1979 Hawaii State Champion boy’s varsity basketball team, which sold in 2020 for $192,000.
LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, and is often ranked second only behind Michael Jordan.
No high school basketball player had ever received the attention or the hype that LeBron James faced.
He began attracting attention in 2000 as a freshman at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, leading their basketball team “The Fighting Irish” to the state championship and then repeating the feat in his sophomore year.
During his senior year in 2002-2003 his games were offered on pay-per-view cable, and one was even broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
After graduating in 2003 he became only the 21st player in history to step straight from high school basketball to the NBA, a move known as going “prep-to-pro”, and was signed by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers at the #1 pick in the NBA draft.
Such was James’ precocious talent that in February 2003, whilst still in his junior year, he appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline “The Chosen One”.
During the shoot James was photographed wearing his #23 jersey, and that same night he wore it on court as he led his team to victory against the Archbishop Hoban Knights.
The jersey had been expertly photo-matched to both the Sports Illustrated cover and the subsequent game.
It first hit the auction block back in October 2019 at Goldin Auctions, when it sold for $187,500.
The recent result of $512,000 marks an 173% increase in value in the space of just 21 months.