LeBron James was the subject of perhaps Grant Wahl’s most famous story — a 2002 Sports Illustrated cover piece declaring James, 17 years old at the time, The Chosen One — and he watched Wahl’s career from afar as he moved from covering college basketball to soccer.
After Wahl’s sudden death in Qatar on Friday, James offered condolences, calling it a “tragic loss.”
“I’m very fond of Grant and having that cover shoot — me being a teenager and him covering that, it was a pretty cool thing,” James said after the Lakers lost to the Sixers. “And he was always pretty cool to be around. He spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron covering me over the course of time before that cover story came out. And I’ve always kind of watched from a distance.
“Even when I moved up the ranks and became a professional and he kind of went to a different sport and things of that nature over the years, anytime his name would come up I would always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building down at [St. Vincent’s]. So, it’s a tragic loss. It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was and I wish his family, like I said, the best. And may he rest in paradise.”
James also indicated he saw that Wahl’s brother, Eric, said he believes foul play was involved, but did not want to comment on the nature of his death without further details.
Wahl, 48, collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday. He was given CPR and then taken to a hospital in an Uber. He was an outspoken critic of holding the World Cup in Qatar, and was detained earlier in the tournament for 30 minutes after wearing a rainbow shirt in support of the LGBTQ+ community into the USA’s match against Wales.
Wahl said on his podcast that he had bronchitis earlier in the week and was “not 100 percent.”
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