Basketball Legend LeBron James on What Inspired His Latest Picture Book 

LeBron James teams up with illustrator Niña Mata once again for his latest children’s book: I Am More Than. The NBA star shares the sense of responsibility he carries when writing children’s books, and why public libraries are irreplaceable.

LeBron James with books he authored

LeBron James teams up with illustrator Niña Mata once again for his latest children’s book: I Am More Than. The NBA star shares the sense of responsibility he carries when writing children’s books, and why public libraries are irreplaceable.

School Library Journal: Was there someone in your life who inspired and nurtured your love for reading and made you want to become an author?
Lebron James: I would say my mom, my little league coaches, and just growing up in the community that I grew up in. When you have so many things going on in your life, you always feel like you want to have an opportunity to give back, and I think for me to be able to be an author and promote literacy, it means a lot. Looking back at my upbringing, so many kids had the opportunity to either live out, or not live out, their dreams. So, to be able to put it in book form, and illustrate exactly what I’m thinking, I think that’s what’s most important to me.
I Am More Than book coverSLJ: How does this book further your mission? Why was writing it important to you? 
LJ: This book is right on point with what my mission is, and what our mission is at IPS (I PROMISE School) and in my community. It’s important for us to continue to have these books, because these kids look up to us. Not only in our hometown of Akron, OH, but all over the world. I am an inspiration. I understand that, and I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders and on my back. It’s important for me to continue to spread the positive word to these kids, so that they understand they can become anything that they want. There’s going to be days that they feel like they can’t make it; there’s going to be days where they feel like they [are] not seen. But I think it’s very important that we continue to drive inspiration into them, and make sure that we, as the adults and their leaders, believe in them. They can achieve anything.

Nina Mata-illustratorSLJ: This is the second time you’re working with illustrator Niña Mata. What do you like about her artwork?
LJ: Niña Mata is amazing. She’s an unbelievable illustrator, and she does a great job of bringing my words and inspiration to life. You saw it in the first one, I Promise, and now you’re seeing it in I Am More Than. It shows these kids, believing, and aspiring, to be grand in life and in their everyday life. So, Niña, she’s a perfect sidekick to work with. She’s amazing.
SLJ: Why do you think everyone should love libraries?
LJ: Libraries are a vital resource because they are the cornerstone of reading. And we all know how important reading is. You can learn so much from books. They can take you places you’ve never been, put you in situations you never considered, help you learn lessons and find inspiration. Reading others’ stories is what gives us perspective and opens our minds to so much possibility. Books are an irreplaceable form of learning, and libraries are just as irreplaceable. 

LeBron James is widely considered to be the best basketball player in the world, and one of the greatest players of all time. James has won four NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, and four league MVP titles. James grew up in Akron, OH, where he continues to create generational change through his LeBron James Family Foundation, that focuses its efforts on helping youth achieve a better future through education. In 2018, his foundation opened the I PROMISE School, designed to help underprivileged students and their entire families succeed in school and beyond. 
Niña Mata is an artist and New York Times bestselling illustrator. Her books include She’s Got This, I Absolutely, Positively Love My Spots, I Promise (by LeBron James), and the “Ty’s Travels” series, including the Geisel Honor Book Ty’s Travels: Zip, Zoom! Visit her at 

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