To the extent that NBA fans "know" Gloria James, LeBron James' mother, what they know might not be altogether positive — the in-game carping at Paul Pierce, the soap-opera back-and-forth surrounding a man's claims to being LeBron's biological father, the run-ins with the law, and so on. But the Miami Heat star, four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA champion sees much, much more than just those negative blips on the radar when he looks at his mother, and he recently picked up a pen to share what he sees with the rest of the world.

James was invited to participate in The Shriver Report, a nonprofit media project helmed by NBC News correspondent Maria Shriver aimed at "inspiring conversations that modernize America's relationship with women." In a first-person piece republished at Today.com, James spoke of identifying with the project's goal of "trying to help single mothers who are struggling to make a living and raise their kids, because that perfectly describes my mother when I was growing up."

You think LeBron James is a champion? Gloria James is a champion too. She’s my champion.
My mother really struggled. She had me, her only child, when she was just 16 years old. She was on her own, so we lived in her mom’s great big house in Akron, Ohio. But on Christmas Day when I was 3 years old, my grandmother suddenly died of a heart attack, and everything changed. With my mom being so young and lacking any support and the skills and education necessary to get ahead, it was really hard for us.