Shooting Stars

Shooting Stars

4.4 21
by LeBron James, Buzz Bissinger

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From the ultimate team—basketball superstar LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August—a poignant, thrilling tale of the power of teamwork to transform young lives, including James’s own.

The Shooting Stars were a bunch of kids—LeBron James and his best friends—from Akron,


From the ultimate team—basketball superstar LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August—a poignant, thrilling tale of the power of teamwork to transform young lives, including James’s own.

The Shooting Stars were a bunch of kids—LeBron James and his best friends—from Akron, Ohio, who first met on a youth basketball team of the same name when they were ten and eleven years old. United by their love of the game and their yearning for companionship, they quickly forged a bond that would carry them through thick and thin (a lot of thin) and, at last, to a national championship in their senior year of high school.

They were a motley group who faced challenges all too typical of inner-city America. LeBron grew up without a father and had moved with his mother more than a dozen times by the age of ten. Willie McGee, the quiet one, had left both his parents behind in Chicago to be raised by his older brother in Akron. Dru Joyce was outspoken, and his dad was ever present; he would end up coaching all five of the boys in high school. Sian Cotton, who also played football, was the happy-go-lucky enforcer, while Romeo Travis was unhappy, bitter, even surly, until he finally opened himself up to the bond his teammates offered him.

In the summer after seventh grade, the Shooting Stars tasted glory when they qualified for a national championship tournament in Memphis. But they lost their focus and had to go home early. They promised one another they would stay together and do whatever it took to win a national title. They had no idea how hard it would be to fulfill that promise. In the years that followed, they would endure jealousy, hostility, exploitation, resentment from the black community (because they went to a “white” high school), and the consequences of their own overconfidence. Not least, they would all have to wrestle with LeBron’s outsize success, which brought too much attention and even a whiff of scandal their way. But together these five boys became men, and together they claimed the prize they had fought for all those years—a national championship.

Shooting Stars is a stirring depiction of the challenges that face America’s youth today and a gorgeous evocation of the transcendent impact of teamwork.

About the Authors
LEBRON JAMES plays for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. His superstardom is hard to overstate: At seventeen he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated; at nineteen he became the youngest Rookie of the Year in NBA history; at twenty-four he is the third highest paid athlete in the world (including endorsements) after Tiger Woods and David Beckham. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, graced Oprah’s stage, and appeared on the cover of Fortune.

BUZZ BISSINGER wrote what is widely regarded as the best and bestselling book about high school sports ever—Friday Night Lights. That work has sold almost two million copies to date and spawned a film and TV series. His other books include A Prayer for the City and the New York Times bestseller Three Nights in August.

Editorial Reviews

Dwight Garner
Shooting Stars is a measured, modest book about four kids from Akron, Ohio, James among them, who became best friends off the court and a mighty force on it. The book, mostly told in James's gentle first-person voice, follows his life and those of his three friends from their often troubled childhoods through the state and national championships they win for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron…reads like a better-than-average young-adult novel, "Stand by Me" with breakaway dunks and long, arching three-pointers.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
James, the highest-paid athlete (including endorsement deals) in the NBA, turns to Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) to tell the story of his meteoric rise as a high school basketball player, when he and his teammates took a private school in Ohio to state and national championships. Looking back at the media circus that put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 17, James accuses the media of overexposing him for their own benefit. It feels like the young superstar is working out some grudges against the athletic officials who challenged his amateur status after he accepted two jerseys from a sporting goods store as a gift, along with his school for failing to take his side in the controversy, but Bissinger smoothes out the rough edges, letting very little anger show. That polish is the as-told-to memoir's biggest problem—despite stylistic flourishes like shifting to present tense to write about James's big games, his passion seems muted. James hits all the right moments, from the childhood promise he made to himself to put Akron on the map to the graduation day photo with his teammates, but it's a story readers hear rather than feel. (Sept.)
Library Journal
James may be the best basketball player in the world right now; he's definitely one of the most popular. And Bissinger's Friday Night Lights became a national sensation, spawning a movie and a successful television series. They should make for a powerful combination as they present the story of James's amazing Akron, OH, high school basketball team, which won multiple state titles and a national championship. Many readers will be interested to know the details surrounding his suspension during his senior year for accepting free "throw-back" jerseys from a local sports dealer and his mother's controversial purchase of a $50,000 Hummer. Unlike Friday Night Lights, few details of the lives of either James himself or his best friends/teammates, the "Fab Five," are given. VERDICT People will want to read this because of James's star power and the controversies he addresses. Both fans of James and of books on high school sports will find the story of the games, the players, and the coaches engaging, but they may be disappointed with matter-of-fact game descriptions that fail to build much excitement.—Todd Spires, Bradley Univ. Lib., Peoria, IL
Kirkus Reviews
NBA superstar James and Vanity Fair contributor and acclaimed sportswriter Bissinger (Three Nights in August, 2005, etc.) profile James's championship high-school basketball team. Although Bissinger's authorial stamp can be somewhat heavy at times, there's still plenty of conversational snap in James's modest but passionate first-person voice. The co-authors adequately humanize all five starting members of Ohio's St.Vincent-St. Mary Shooting Stars. Of course James is the focus here, and he provides ample biographical details about his fatherless upbringing in the Akron housing projects. James proved to be not only a gifted athlete-effortlessly excelling in both football and basketball-but also an honor-roll student. His teammates were an eccentric mixed bag, but all hailed from economically underprivileged backgrounds and ended up on scholarship at the mostly white private high school. As a result, they were often considered traitors by the black community, while never feeling wholly accepted in white society. It was James's remarkable individual play that eventually brought national attention to the team. During his senior season, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and suddenly his team was pushed into the national spotlight-with all the attendant accolades, pressures and pitfalls. When James accepted $850 in merchandise from a local Cleveland clothing shop-in violation of an obscure and rarely enforced rule-he was temporarily suspended and then dragged into a court hearing. The inspirational heart of the book is James and his teammates' gutsy performance in the face of the tornado-like media frenzy. The co-authors dramatically re-create the minute-by-minute highlights of keygames in St.V's national-championship drive, but they also interject some serious social commentary on the vindictiveness, greed and exploitation that can infect the seemingly pristine world of amateur sports. A simple but moving story about the double-edged sword of precocious athletic talent and the redemptive power of teamwork. Launch events in New York and Cleveland. Agent: Mort Janklow/Janklow & Nesbit

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Shooting Stars by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) September 2009.

Chapter 1: Mapmakers

I rode my bike all over Akron when I was small, going here, going there, just trying to stay out of trouble, just trying to keep busy, just really hoping the chain wouldn’t break like it sometimes did. If you went high up on North Hill in the 1980s, you could tell that life was not like it once was: the obsolete smokestacks in the distance, the downtown that felt so tired and weary. I won’t deny it—there was something painful about all of that. It got to me, this place in northeastern Ohio that had once been so mighty (at one point it was the fastest-growing city in the country) but was mighty no more. This place that was struggling to be something again.

It was still my hometown. The more I rode my bike around, and you could ride just about everywhere because it was midwestern small and compact, the more familiar I became with it. I rode along Copley Road, the main thoroughfare of West Akron, past the dark of redbrick apartment buildings with red-trimmed windows. A little bit farther up, I went past the Laundry King and Queen Beauty Supply. Riding along East Avenue, which took you from the western part of the city into the south, I went past modest two-story homes with porches and the brown concrete of the Ed Davis Community Center.

I descended into the valley of South Akron along Thornton Street, past the blond brick of Roush’s Market and the Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home. South Akron was a tough neighborhood, but still I rode, past Akron Automatic Screw Products and the aluminum siding of the Thornton Terrace apartments. Along Johnston Street I went into the east side, past simple homes of red and green and blue that looked like a rainbow. I turned south on Arlington, past the Arlington Church of God and Bethel Baptist and Allied Auto. I came to the Goodyear clock tower, towering high like the Washington Monument and the great symbol of what Akron had once been, the “Rubber Capital of the World,” producing tires by the millions until all the great factories closed.

I biked up the north side into a section of the city known as the Bottom and went past the Elizabeth Park projects—my own home for a time—two-story apartment buildings in unsmiling rows, some of which had been condemned, some of which had been boarded up, some that had screen doors with the hinges torn off or the wire mesh stripped away. I headed back west and biked along Portage Path, a wealthy section of town with sprawling houses of brick and stone and shiny black shutters all perfectly aligned.

I knew I would never live there unless some miracle happened, something fell from the sky, a shooting star that landed on top of me and my mom and made our lives better and carried us up from the projects. But that wasn’t the Akron I thought of anyway. Much of it was taken up by the neighborhoods that I went past on my bike, humble homes with tiny tufts of lawn that people tended and took care of. Because even in my darkest days growing up, and there were some dark ones, ones that left me up half the night scared and lonely and worried, that’s what Akron always meant to me—people taking care of things, people taking care of each other, people who found you and protected you and treated you like their own son even when you weren’t. With a population of about 225,000 when I was growing up, it was still small enough to feel intimate, a place you could put your arms around, a place that would put its arms around you.

There was something wholesome about it, the best of the Midwest, Cleveland without the ’hoods where you could go in and never come back out. One of my favorite spots in town was Swensons, which, straight out of Happy Days, still served up a burger and fries and Cherry Coke on a tray that was attached to the window of your car by a goofy-looking teenager still dealing with acne. I loved those burgers at Swensons, loved the scene and the smell and best of all the taste (order it with everything to get the full effect). But it wasn’t until much later, when I was blessed with a skill I was able to develop, that I ever got much of a chance to eat one. A burger at Swensons? There was no way I could afford something like that.

Because Akron, for all its goodness of heart, wasn’t soft. There were gangs and there were drugs and there were grim housing projects where sirens and gunfire went off in the night. There was an inner city, maybe not as bad as Cleveland or Chicago or Philadelphia. But it was there, and I know it was there because I spent a lot of my childhood living within it, hearing those sounds and just trying to keep going, just keep my head low and keep on moving. And maybe if there was anything that was really different about me from other kids growing up in similar circumstances, it was that idea:

Just keep on moving.

Growing up in the inner city is not the hardest thing in the world to do. What my mom Gloria went through—having me by herself when she was sixteen years old and trying to raise me and give me everything I wanted—was so much harder. But certainly it’s also not the easiest place in the world to begin your life, particularly when you see so many people who never even get to the middle.

You definitely have no choice but to see and hear things you never want to experience and you never ever want your kids to experience—violence and drug abuse and the mournful music of those police sirens wailing. You lie in bed, and you just know something bad is happening, something heavy, and you just thank the Lord that it isn’t you out there in it, and you lie in bed some more and just wait for those sounds to go away. Eventually they do. But it’s hard to fall back asleep after that. Sometimes it’s impossible. Was there just a terrible fight? Are the police busting for drugs again? What was that noise? No matter how much I tried to shut everything out, and I have always been good at shutting everything out, they have an impact. But maybe not the way you might be thinking.

Because it helps you grow up when you are an only child. It helps you to learn to take care of yourself. It also helps to motivate you—if you ever are lucky enough to find a way out of where you are, even if it’s for a few hours, you are going to run with it as fast as you can.

Whatever I went through, I always loved Akron. And even back then, growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, there was one thing that always bothered me. In school, whenever I looked at a map of the United States—because you know how schools are, there is always a map of the United States in every classroom—the first thing I did was look at Ohio. There was Cleveland, of course, because everybody knew Cleveland, former home of the legendary Browns and Jimmy Brown, home of the Indians. On some maps there might be the state capital of Columbus. Or even Cincinnati. But where was Akron? How come there was never Akron?

Akron who? Akron where?

Akron nobody, as far as the mapmakers were concerned. That always got to me. Why wasn’t my hometown there? I don’t remember how old I was exactly, maybe eight or nine. But I promised myself, in the funny way that little kids make promises over things that nobody else in the world cares about, that one day I was going to put Akron on the map. Maybe not literally, because you could tell those mapmakers were a prickly bunch, but I was going to let the world know where Akron was. I didn’t know how. I just knew in my heart I was going to do it.

Was I a dreamer?

Of course I was.

But if you wish hard enough, try hard enough, find the right group of guys to dream along with you, then maybe, because there is always a maybe with dreams, they can come true.

What People are saying about this

Steve Lopez
"The clock ticks, the suspense tightens, the scrappy kids from hard-luck Akron leave you hanging on every shot. But the wonder of SHOOTING STARS is that it's hardly about basketball. Instead it is a nuanced coming-of-age drama about American culture and race, about organized sports as redeemer and exploiter, and about the blessing and curse of celebrity. At this book's heart, though, is an uncommon bond forged in youthful innocence and desire, a friendship at least as meaningful as anything LeBron James will ever add to his trophy case."--(Steve Lopez, author of "The Soloist")
Mike Krzyzewski
"In the Olympics, LeBron was a star, a leader, and the ultimate teammate. He helped our team become a family. Reading SHOOTING STARS taught me how he became that kind of a teammate, developing the selflessness and loyalty that define who he is. What an amazing story."--(Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University men's basketball coach, Gold-Medal winning coach of US men's basketball team, 2008 Olympics)
"When I first saw LeBron James play as a professional, it was his selflessness that dazzled me the most. After reading SHOOTING STARS, I now understand why. It is a book of five boys coming together to learn the true meaning of teamwork and togetherness, loyalty and love, through highs and lows and thick and thin. It is a book filled with excitement and unforgettable characters. It is a book that will incredibly move and inspire you."
Madeleine Blais
"Told in a voice that is streetwise, yet gentle, SHOOTING STARS shows how inner determination trumps bad breaks and how a winning combination of coaches, mentors, and friends turns lucky breaks into a way of life. If a book can have game, this one does."--(Madeleine Blais, author of IN THESE GIRLS, HOPE IS A MUSCLE)
John Grisham
"A heartwarming story of boys who became men, teammates who became brothers, players who became champions, wonderfully told through the maturing eyes of basketball's greatest star."
Bob Costas
"Our sense of modern athletes is often limited to what highlight reels and marketing campaigns reveal or obscure. SHOOTING STARS is the compelling and often poignant story of a remarkable group of young men only one of whom happens to be a future NBA superstar. In the end we care about them all, even as we come away with a truer understanding and appreciation of the circumstances and relationships that forged one of the most significant sports figures of our time."--(Bob Costas, HBO and NBC sports commentator)
Warren Buffett
"Reading about LeBron James' transition from boyhood to manhood was a thrill for me. SHOOTING STARS is a remarkable and riveting story, filled with lessons of life we can all learn from."

Meet the Author

LeBron James plays for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. At seventeen he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated; at nineteen he became the youngest Rookie of the Year in NBA history; at twenty-three he is the third-highest-paid athlete in the world (including endorsements). He has hosted Saturday Night Live, graced Oprah’s stage, and appeared on the cover of Fortune.
Buzz Bissinger is the author of A Prayer for the City, the New York Times bestseller Three Nights in August, and Friday Night Lights, which has sold almost 2 million copies to date and spawned a film and a TV series. He is a contributing writer for Vanity Fair.

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Shooting Stars 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Welcome to starlightclan,we do fun things in this clan,like attacking other clans on my command,we hold gatherings every saturday,i will give you a heads up when we are haveing one,and we patrol borders.<br> The next res is where you put your bios if you want to join this clan of course,resthree is where we meet every day till the gatherings<br>t
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Shooting Stars shows how close friendships can help overcome any obstacle, The Fab Four LeBron, McGee, Dru, and Sain wanted to all go to the same high school together to play basketball with each other so they can play basketball together. this book goes in-depth to the childhood of a future NBA superstar Lebron James and how he met 4 young men who had the same passion for the game as he did. these friends became brothers through the game of basketball. this book tells the story of the obstacles they had to overcome to be a high school state champion with the ups and downs the highs and lows I enjoyed this book because of how they always stuck together no matter they what they went trough they stuck with each other like glue on hands. even though the black community felt as they were betrayed because they went to play for a white school they were proven wring because of what they received out of it the satisfaction of them bringing home a nation championship
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shooting Stars by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger is about LeBron and his friends who basically became brothers through the game  of basketball. The story tells the up and downs they face through mostly high school, but also some if their junior high years as an AAU team. They also tell about how hard it is to try and win a national championship, and how they were hated everywhere they went because  they didn&rsquo;t go to a &ldquo;Black&rdquo; school. I enjoyed this book because of how they always stuck together. If they felt one of them wasn't going to  get a fair chance, then they didn't pick that high school. They also did a very good job of writing about the games and making them  intense. Teenage basketball players will not be able to put it down.
HeinrichJoJH More than 1 year ago
Shooting Stars is a story that goes in-depth to the childhood of NBA superstar: LeBron James. Having being written by LeBron himself, and Buzz Bissinger, you can trust the story is accurate. Beginning with his childhood, telling about his career playing AAU basketball with his friends, it really shows how hard you have to work to achieve what you want. LeBron practiced wherever he could, he worked with his friends and they did amazing things. It tells the story about LeBron's coach; Coach Dru. Coach Dru is the father of one of LeBron's best friends; Little Dru. Coach Dru will eventually become LeBron's high school coach, but is the current coach of LeBron's AAU team, the Shooting Stars. Coach does all he can, taking them to every tournament possible, even when it means driving in a minivan from Akron, Ohio to Pebble Beach, Florida for the AAU national tournament. This makes you appreciate all of the youth sports coaches out there. From his childhood, the book moves onto his high school career, and it is truly one to marvel at. With in-depth scores and a virtual play-by-play of almost every game, it is quite easy to feel as if you are actually watching the game. LeBron tells you his side of the story on all of the controversy of his high school career, and all of the on-goings at his high school, and what it felt like to be hated almost everywhere you went. This book is interesting for anyone who likes sports books. The story seems almost like fiction, and you could even think it is when you find out how good LeBron, and his teammates were in high school. But it is a biography and quite a good one. Often, biographies are seen and thought of as the books that are only good for research and are thought of as hard work just to turn the page. With this book, I found that it was interesting, and I wasn't even doing any research! You will learn more about high school sports, and what it's like to be taken advantage of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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crockwood More than 1 year ago
Shooting Stars by Lebron James and Buzz Bissinger is a moving account of James' childhood and teenage years as well as four of his best friends while living in Akron, Ohio. They grew up with great adversity and also one dream, winning a national championship in basketball. Through there diligence and hard work, they reached their dream together conquering any adversity along the way as a band of brothers. There were a couple powerful messages that were apparent in this story. One was to follow your dreams. It's quite clich&#233;; however, these young men worked hard, fought through much adversity (like their whole hometown turning against them) and humbled themselves to achieve their dream. It was not an easy road; however, they were willing to pursue in order to accomplish their dream. Another powerful message that was told in this story was to conqueror adversity. All five of these young men that started from humble beginnings and it was through diligence, resilience and an eye focused on their dream and they were able to escape to a better life. One of the elements that I enjoyed about the book was how these young men united and relied on each other during the hardest times in young lives. They made every decision together as a brotherhood. Another element that I loved was Bissinger's style of writing. It was perfect to portray this story. He used imagery to paint the picture of games so precisely that I felt like I was in the bleachers watching. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that they author was not bashful of profanity. They give exact dialogue of the young men which contain some vulgar language. I strongly recommend this book to all those out there that are basketball fans that are interested in learning about one of the most prolific athletes in the sports world today. I recommend this book even more strongly to those that are interested in reading a story about a group of young men that united as brothers and fought through to obtain a goal that is not fiction. It is a reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TSpahn31 More than 1 year ago
Shooting Stars is an excellent book that shows the importance of friends. Without their friends LeBron James, Dru Joyce, Willie Mcgee, Sian Cotton, and Romeo Travis would have never been anywhere close to the men they are today. Throughout Shooting Stars tough times arise as well as easy times, but the Fab Five get through it and move on. A major message through the book is no matter what you have to do never lose the people that are closest to you. You may have to follow them to places that at the time you don't want to but because there your best friends you want to stick with them. I had many likes in this book as a whole. First, the book being written by a person that I have the same interests with helped tremendously. Also LeBron being in high school in the majority of the book helped because I am that age as well. Next I loved that the book was written on a true story and I could relate to things in the book that happened to me as well. One more thing that I liked about Shooting Stars was that it went into detail and had actual play by plays, scores, and pictures of games. Although there were lots I liked about this book, I also had some dislikes. The only thing I remotely disliked about the book was that the pictures in the book weren't scattered and were only in one place throughout the book. Other then that one minor dislike I loved the book. I would definitely recommend Shooting Stars to an outside reader that is looking for a book that teaches you good morals and is also very entertaining. This book gives you images in your head and also gives you an idea on how hard it is to be famous as a high school student athlete. My overall rating of Shooting Stars is nine and a half out of ten. I give this book this rating because it was my favorite novel that I have ever read. It got me hooked right from the beginning and I couldn't put it down until I read every single page. Shooting Stars will not disappoint you and I insist that if you have not read this book to go out right now and get your hands on it. Thank you for your time and your interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Shooting Stars by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger is an inspirational book about perseverance, racism, friendship, and the love of basketball. Shooting Stars is a basketball program which Lebron and his friends played in. throughout the Shooting stars seasons they had together their friendships grew stronger and stronger. LeBron James grew up in the projects of Akron, Ohio without a father and moved around more than a dozen times with his mother by the age of ten. Willie McGee was the quiet one, who left both his parents behind due to their drug problems to live with his older brother. Dru Joyce was the most out spoken, his dad was the coach of Shooting stars and always pushed Dru harder than any other kid. Sian Cotton played football as well he was the happy-go-lucky while Romeo was unhappy and bitter until he finally opened himself to his teammates. I enjoyed this book a lot, one because I like LeBron James, second because I love basketball. The book Shooting Stars shows how close friendships can help overcome any obstacle, The Fab Four LeBron, McGee, Dru, and Sain wanted to all go to the same high school together to play ball. At the time Butchel was the school to go to for sports for the minority, but the coach at Butchel wasn't going to give Dru or Sain a chance to really tryout so they all decided to go to St. V's so they could all play together but the black community hated the Fab Four for it and called them traitors. They stayed together and ended up winning a national championship at that school together along with Romeo who came along later.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lebron has been very grateful and has handled his success very well. i think this shows how down to earth he is and how he realizes it's a team effort keep up the way you act.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
best book i ever read it was so good. it shows a lot about the character of Lebron James because he talks more about his teammates then he does himself
tjs83 More than 1 year ago
Shooting Stars by LeBron James is a good book. It tells houw LeBron got his start with basketball. The book is more about inspiration and a coming-of-age story then it is about basketball.