LeBron James Pays Tribute to Sports Journalist Grant Wahl After His Death

After Grant Wahl died while covering the World Cup, LeBron James honored the sports journalist, who famously wrote his first Sports Illustrated cover story in 2002.

By Ashley Joy Parker Dec 10, 2022 10:38 PMTags
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Gone but not forgotten.

One day after the news broke of the tragic death of Grant WahlLeBron James took to Twitter to share the positive effect the sports writer had on his life and career.

"You had a huge impact on me and my family and I'm so appreciative of you," the NBA star tweeted on Dec. 9. "A great person and journalist. Rest In Paradise Grant Wahl."

Wahl covered James as a high school student and famously authored the Sports Illustrated 2002 cover story "The Chosen One" about the then 16-year-old basketball player from Ohio.

The L.A. Lakers star, now 37, also paid tribute to Wahl at a postgame press conference in Philadelphia Dec. 9. "I've always kind of watched from a distance even when I moved up in ranks and became a professional, and he went to a different sport," he said. "Any time his name would come up, I'll always think back to me as a teenager and having Grant in our building."

James added, "It's a tragic loss."

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The journalist died at the age of 49 in Qatar while covering the World Cup, U.S. Soccer shared in a statement that day. 


"The entire U.S. Soccer family is heartbroken to learn that we have lost Grant Wahl," the organization wrote in the statement. "Fans of soccer and journalism of the highest quality knew we could always count on Grant to deliver insightful and entertaining stories about our game, and its major protagonists: teams, players, coaches and the many personalities that make soccer unlike any sport." 

Wahl passed away after collapsing at the Argentina-Netherlands quarterfinal match. A spokesperson for Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) said in a statement to NBC News that Grant "fell ill in the Lusail Stadium media tribune, during last night's quarter-final match between Argentina v Netherlands. He received immediate emergency medical treatment on site, which continued as he was transferred by ambulance to Hamad General Hospital."

His official cause of his death has not been released.

James isn't the only athlete to pay tribute to Wahl on social media. Tennis great Billie Jean King shared on Twitter that the news of his passing was "heartbreaking" and acknowledged the writer's contributions beyond the world of sports.

"A talented journalist, Grant was an advocate for the LGBTQ community & a prominent voice for women's soccer," King tweeted Dec. 10. "He used his platform to elevate those whose stories needed telling. Prayers for his family."

Rob Latour/Shutterstock; Brendan Moran - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Tyler Adams, the captain of the U.S. men's national soccer team—which was knocked out of the World Cup by the Netherlands in the round of 16—sent his "deepest sympathy" to Wahl's wife, Celine Gounder, and to those who knew him. 

"As players we have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of journalists," Adams wrote on Twitter, "& Grant's was a giant voice in soccer that has tragically fallen silent." 

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