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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP) Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP)

By Patrick Orsagos July 9, 2020

Images mischaracterize LeBron James’ views on white people

If Your Time is short

  • Images on Facebook are being shared that quote LeBron James saying that he does not want to associate with or befriend white people. 

  • The quote was cut short and taken from the pilot episode of “The Shop,” an HBO show that James stars in and co-produces. 

  • The quote is from LeBron explaining his transition, as a 14-year-old, from his predominantly non-white neighborhood to the largely white St. Vincent-St. Mary Catholic high school. 

Images shared on Facebook claim LeBron James does not want to befriend or associate himself with white people. 

An image posted June 6 quotes the 16-time NBA all-star saying, "I don't want nothing to do with white people. I don’t believe they want anything to do with me. I don’t want no (white) friends. It’s me and my boys."

This image and this one have also racked up thousands of shares, linking the comment to an episode of "The Shop," an HBO talk show that launched in 2018. 

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

James did say this, but the quote is cut short and leaves out crucial context. 

The quote does originate from the Aug. 28, 2018, pilot episode of  "The Shop," which James co-produced. But he makes the comment while reflecting on his feelings in high school. James tweeted a clip that contains the full quote the same day. 

In the episode, former high school teammate and current business partner Maverick Carter asked James to explain his transition from a predominantly non-white childhood neighborhood to the largely white St. Vincent-St. Mary Catholic high school in Akron, Ohio. 

Featured Fact-check

James said, "I went to an all-white, Catholic high school. So when I first went to the ninth grade I was on some, ‘I’m not f***ing with white people.’"

He went on to tell Carter that growing up in his neighborhood led him to think that white people didn’t want anything to do with him or his friends, and that they did not want them to succeed. In the hierarchy of race in his high school, white people were at the top and Black people were at the bottom, he said. 

The only reason he was there was to play basketball, James said. "I don’t want nothing to do with white people. I don’t believe that they want anything to do with — it’s me and my boys. We're going to high school together and we’re here to hoop. So that was my initial thoughts and shocks to like white America," he said.

James has been open about his experiences growing up poor and how it contributed to his drive for success. By the end of freshman year, Carter went on to say in the clip from "The Shop," the initial feelings of separation from white students dwindled as the basketball season progressed. 

"By the end of the year, all of us were best friends," Carter said.

Other news outlets reported on the quote  after the show's premiere, and Reuters fact-checked similar posts more recently.  

Our ruling 

Facebook posts quote LeBron James saying that he does not want to associate himself with white people. 

The posts leave out crucial context: When James said this, he was reflecting on how he felt as a freshman in high school when he entered a predominantly white high school. Later in school, James recalled, he became friends with his white peers in the school.

 

Our Sources

Facebook, post, June 6, 2020

Facebook, post, June 7, 2020 

Facebook, post, June 25, 2020 

HBO, "The Shop" Episode 1, August 28, 2018 

Twitter, tweet from Rob Lopez, August 28, 2018 

Bloomberg News, LeBron James, Maverick Carter’s SpringHill to Be a Media Empire, June 25, 2020 

ESPN, How LeBron James’ life changed in fourth grade, October 7, 2013

ABC News 5 Cleveland, LeBron James reflects on how his 14-year-old self had to adjust to coexist with white people, August 30, 2018 

Reuters, Fact check: LeBron James quote on white people taken out of context, June 26, 2020 

 

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Images mischaracterize LeBron James’ views on white people

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