The day when 16-year-old LeBron “ended the career” of the future star

Pierre-Andréa Fraile | Sports journalist

Long before traumatizing NBA defenses, LeBron James quickly made a name for himself on the high school circuit. He would even destroy the grand plans of a top prospect older than him who seemed to have the promise of a great career.

At a time when the Internet was just starting to democratize the American home, America's young basketball hopefuls didn't benefit from today's exposure. And yet, he managed to attract the attention of many observers in the early 2000s as a young high school student. At that moment, for many, the brilliant career of LeBron James on the court began.

The XXL rivalry that LeBron hastily ended

A sensation on the high school circuit in Ohio, James achieved national fame at the age of 16 across the Atlantic. The fame he gained especially during the ABCD camp organized by Adidas, where the best prospects in the country competed. At that time, another great talent was called upon to tear it all down…before his paths crossed with LeBron. Basketball Mecca's influential account says:

Lenny Cooke was considered the best high school player in the country and a fan favorite during the ABCD Camp held near his hometown in New Jersey. After showing his talent, extreme confidence and arrogance during the victory against Carmelo Anthony, Lenny found himself in the final of the tournament where he had to face a player two years his junior who upset the scouts of the country.

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LeBron beat Lenny by scoring 24 points to 9 and gave his team the victory with a shot from 10 meters from the basket, one foot and at the horn. According to scouts and organizers, this action, so to speak, “ended Cooke's career” by robbing him of all confidence. It could be romanticized given all the mistakes he made off the field, but it speaks to his importance.

Lenny has since resurfaced on multiple platforms and has given back to the community by teaching younger generations not to make the mistakes he did.

Some highlights of this fateful encounter for Cooke's career can still be found on the web, and have already allowed us to see the full potential of LBJ, here adorned with the number 155:

The legendary comeback from 2001:

Relatively unknown LeBron James schools Lenny Cooke, the No. 1 player in the country.

— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) April 27, 2018

Destined for a bright future in the NBA, Lenny Cooke saw his career completely derailed after being humiliated against a young LeBron James. So much so that King never found his one-day rival in the league afterward.

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