LeBron's former H.S. coach praises his football prowess

LeBron James' former high school football coach says the Heat star was always dedicated.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Former University of Miami and Miami Dolphins linebacker Jay Brophy has another claim to fame: He coached LeBron James in high school football.


Brophy was James' coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.


"His mom, Gloria, used to me, 'Jay, don't let my baby get hurt,' " Brophy said Friday night at Sun Life Stadium. "I had to tell her, 'Go look at your baby. He's bigger than anybody out there. You don't have to don't worry about him.' "


Brophy was at the Miami-Florida Atlantic University season opener to join teammates on the 1983 national championship Hurricanes, who were being honored.


When asked about James, Brophy said he had little doubt the Miami Heat star would have been successful in whatever career path he chose.


"Never late to anything. Not a problem in school," Brophy said of James. "And to give back to the community like he has.


"He had a big giveaway where he gave uniforms to the school. Of course, who had to wear the uniform out on the field? LeBron. He wore his football uniform on the field."


Brophy praised James' maturity at a young age.


"A very dedicated kid. Never missed a meeting -- but after practice, no matter what, he went to the gym to shoot for two hours," Brophy said.


James did not play football as a high school senior. He had suffered a broken wrist playing basketball with friends in Chicago and didn't want to risk his hoops career.


Just how good could James have been if he had pursued football?


"He'd have been an All-American talent and might have be an All-Pro receiver," Brophy said.


Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.