LeBron James Jr., who goes by Bronny, stole an inbounds pass in the final minute and scored the bucket that turned out to be the game winner in Sierra Canyon's 59-56 victory over St. Vincent-St. Mary inside a packed Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The freshman scored 15 off the bench as his father watched him play in high school for the first time.
"I think I was a lot more nervous than my son," James told ESPN during a halftime interview. "Coming in here and being such a surreal moment for myself, our family, for Bronny himself. It's pretty cool."
James, who played for St. Vincent-St. Mary and helped the school win a state championship in Columbus in 2003, made the trip in between the Lakers' games in Miami and Atlanta. He rarely sat in the final minute, including when Bronny made the play of the game.
With Sierra Canyon trailing by one, the freshman deflected an inbounds pass near the scorer's table, gathered the loose ball and went down the court for a layup inside the game's final minute. The go-ahead bucket came after Bronny missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer on a previous possession.
James sat with his wife, Savannah, across the court from Sierra Canyon's bench. After being reserved in his seat for most of the game, he became more animated as his alma mater's five-point lead started to evaporate down the stretch. Sierra Canyon's Brandon Boston Jr. scored a game-high 16 points, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Bronny was given one of the game's MVP honors and took pictures with his father, his father's former teammates and St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dru Joyce, who coached against his former pupil's son.
Romeo Travis, one of James' former teammates, said it was cool to see Bronny continue to blossom into his own.
"He's not living off his dad's name," said Travis, who sat next to James. "He's actually a really good player, so it's awesome to see."
Bronny, who wore a pair of Nikes in St. Vincent-St. Mary's colors and the school's initials on the back, checked into the game around the four-minute mark of the first quarter and received an ovation from the crowd. After missing a couple of shots early, he steadied himself in the second quarter and scored eight of his 15 with his family courtside.
"To have his mother and father in the stands, watching in Ohio, for us to win and for him to play a great game, I think that's the things you live for as basketball player," Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said.
After the court cleared following the game, James spent a few extra minutes with his family before he left the arena. A few minutes later, Bronny walked out of Sierra Canyon's locker room, clutching his MVP trophy as he made his way to the exits.
James said watching his son play his alma mater in his home state was a full-circle moment for him.
"It's an honor for myself to have my family here and for us to be watching such a beautiful game," James said.