Kids may look at LeBron James these days as the ultra-popular NBA superstar, but they might not know that "King James" was also once just a typical kid. In fact, like any American kid, James loved watching pro wrestling and was fascinated by one of the most iconic WWE characters of all time – Stone Cold Steve Austin.
A young king at a WWE event
At one Monday Night Raw event in 2003, James, the most talked-about rookie in the NBA at the time, decided to go ringside to watch Stone Cold live. WWE announcers Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler acknowledged his presence. When the cameras focused on the young James, he was caught taking photos of Stone Cold, who was celebrating his victory that night.
Years later, that moment rose to prominence again as it became a social media hit. Apparently, Stone Cold didn't need to check his social media accounts to recall the epic moment as he "vividly" remembers everything to this day.
"I've forgotten so many things but I remember that vividly," Austin told Complex of James' WWE moment. "…He had that flip phone and he was taking pictures…He was basketball. I mean everything was about LeBron and he was about to really get going and take over the sport. And to see him out there at the WWE event and be a fan of Stone Cold was very flattering."
Austin went on and admitted that he wanted to give LeBron some proper acknowledgment, too but he "was in character" that night, and it would be unbecoming of Stone Cold to do such a thing.
"I wanted to go out there and shake his hand and slap him on the back but I couldn't do that," he added.
Different worlds, same respect
As it turned out, James has been paying homage to Stone Cold every now and then. In fact, last year, he made waves on social media again after rocking a slick Stone Cold Steve Austin "3:16" shirt to a game.
Austin also learned about it at the time and returned the favor to "The Kid from Akron."
"The magnificent career he's had…It goes back, he watched my career and I've watched his entire career, so full circle on that," Austin said of James via The Sports Rush.
The connection between Stone Cold and LeBron is undeniably astonishing. Given James' WWE fandom, it's hard not to think about the four-time MVP someday making his pro wrestling debut. Let's see what happens.