Did Lebron James Ever Go to College or Finish High School?

Did LeBron James go to college or finish high school? Let's examine the basketball star's educational background to find the answers.

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LeBron James Dunking
Photo by Erik Drost / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
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LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, having won four NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, and four MVP awards. Plus, on top of all that, he is the youngest player to reach 36,000 career points in the NBA.

The 37-year-old has made a name for himself on and off the court, and his son Bronny James is currently following in his footsteps as a high school basketball player, being 39th in his respective class.

However, one might wonder: what is LeBron’s educational background like? Did he ever attend college? If yes, where? Or, if not, what did he do instead? And, did he ever play NCAA basketball? We dug into LeBron’s educational history to get some answers.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Did LeBron James graduate high school?

Yes, LeBron James graduated from St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in 2003, together with fellow “Fab Five” students Dru Joyce III, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee, and Romeo Travis. Right after graduating, LeBron was drafted to the NBA by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Photo by Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Called a “man amongst boys” by his high school classmates, LeBron James excelled not only at basketball but also in football while he was a student at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School. In fact, LeBron was so well-known during his senior year of high school, that some of his high school games were broadcast on national television.

So, LeBron James was a sensational figure during his high school years, but did he ever go to college?

Did LeBron James go to college?

No, LeBron James did not go to college. Skipping college, he started playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA right after graduating high school in 2003, and he has been in the NBA ever since, never having received a college degree or taken any university classes.

While LeBron James never attended college, he has made some comments regarding where he would have liked to go had he decided to take the formal education route.

During Laker’s media day, LeBron James hinted that he would have likely gone to the Ohio State University if he had gone to college. After all, he grew up in Akron, Ohio, which is only about a 2-hour drive from the Ohio State University campus.

In an ESPN interview, however, LeBron suggested that if Ohio State University wasn’t an option, his college choice would have likely boiled down to either Duke University or The University of North Carolina.

These comments suggest that going to college was not entirely out of the picture for LeBron, despite his ultimate choice to skip it and go directly into the NBA.

What has LeBron James said about college?

LeBron James’ relationship with college is complicated, due to his unhappiness with how the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) treats college student-athletes.

His critiques of the NCAA have included, among other factors:

  • The NCAA requiring agents who represent student-athletes to have a college degree. This requirement, however, was amended by the NCAA in 2019.
  • Colleges benefiting hugely from basketball stars while the players themselves only receive small kickbacks such as free tuition.
  • The NCAA not allowing college basketball players to make any money off of their names.

These reasons are also why Lebron has been one of the most vocal supporters of the Fair Pay to Play Act, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. This bill fundamentally changed how college basketball players can monetize their name, image, and likeness, and gave them more earning power while they are still in school. While the bill only targets California, other states may soon follow suit, and the NCAA has been scrambling in response, even going so far as threatening to ban Californian schools from competing in national championships.

As for LeBron James’ son, Bronny James, however, it seems like he might take a different route than his father. While Bronny is only in high school, he is already planning a visit to Ohio State University. Other colleges are also interested in recruiting him, so we might see Bronny James playing college basketball in the future, unlike his father.

Photo by Erik Drost / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Ultimately, though, despite LeBron’s complicated relationship with the NCAA, he still recognizes the value of formal education. Previously, he has stated that he plans to pursue a college diploma at the University of Akron when the time is right, and he has also pledged to donate $41 million to pay for 1,100 kids’ college education.

As one of the most successful athletes in history, LeBron James is a living example of what can be achieved without going to college. But, at the same time, he has also shown that he understands the value of higher education and is committed to helping others pay for their higher education.