Officials say LeBron's mother helping in SUV probe
January 15, 2003 at 6:29 PM EST - Updated June 18 at 4:30 PM
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - The mother of high school basketball phenom LeBron James is cooperating with state officials who are investigating whether James risked his amateur status by accepting a sports utility vehicle as a gift.
Gloria James has spoken to Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Clair Muscaro and provided documentation about the vehicle, OHSAA spokesman Bob Goldring said.
Goldring said he did not know what documents she had given the OHSAA.
Meanwhile, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School athletic director Grant Innocenzi released a statement denying reports that the school is involved in the investigation.
Innocenzi says the school's only role was to put Gloria James in direct contact with the OHSAA.
On Monday, the OHSAA began an inquiry to determine how James, regarded as the nation's best high school player, acquired a 2003 Hummer H2. State officials were concerned that James, a senior, might have violated a state bylaw that says an athlete forfeits his or her amateur status by "capitalizing on athletic fame by receiving money or gifts of monetary value."
Gloria James reportedly obtained a bank loan and bought the car -- outfitted with three TVs, embroidered seats and computer hookups -- as an 18th birthday gift for her son, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft. Without the extras, the vehicle has a base retail price of $50,000.
Gloria James has refused to comment on the situation.
Muscaro, who was unavailable for comment Wednesday, had hoped the investigation would be concluded by end of the week. But Goldring said the OHSAA was still gathering information, and the inquiry likely would continue into next week.
In his statement, Innocenzi said the school did contact Muscaro before St. Vincent-St. Mary's game against Mentor on Tuesday to find out if James remains eligible to play while the investigation continues.
"We were told that there is no prohibition unless and until OHSAA rules to the contrary," Innocenzi said.
James' next game is Monday in Greensboro, N.C.
On Tuesday night, James scored a school-record 50 points to lead the nation's top-ranked team to a 92-56 win. He dazzled a sellout crowd of 6,000 by making 11 3-pointers -- another school record -- and scoring 45 of his points in just three quarters.
After banking in his 10th 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third period, James did a little dance before heading to his team's bench.
At the same time, Gloria James bolted from her seat and began walking around the concourse of James A. Rhodes Arena. As she passed sections of Mentor fans, she teased the crowd by waving a hand fan at them with her son's picture on it.
Before the game, LeBron poked a little fun at the SUV controversy by playing with a remote-controlled Hummer on the arena floor as his teammates warmed up.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)