LeBron James and Joe Burrow Had Similar Paths to Becoming Pro Athletes

Joe Burrow is going back home to Ohio to play in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals. This comes after he was a high school football star in Ohio and later played at Ohio State before transferring to LSU. It is definitely pretty cool that Burrow will be able to play in front of his friends and family. In fact, when looking at his path to becoming a professional athlete, it looks pretty similar to LeBron James’ path.

Joe Burrow is going to Cincinnati after growing up in Ohio

Before becoming a star at LSU, Joe Burrow was making history at Athens High School in The Plains, Ohio. His dad, Jimmy Burrow, was actually the defensive coordinator for Ohio University’s football team from 2005 through the 2018 season, according to the Ohio Bobcats’ site. Joe ultimately took his dad’s football expertise and perfected it on the field. 

Joe took Athens to three straight playoff appearances, according to The Highland County Press, and helped the team earn the school’s first seven playoff wins ever. He threw for 4,500 yards, 63 touchdowns, and two interceptions as a senior, winning Ohio Mr. Football. Burrow even took Athens to the state championship game that season, according to Sporting News. 

Then, after three seasons in Ohio State’s program, Burrow transferred to LSU. He had a decent season in 2018 but arguably had the greatest season in college football history in 2019. Burrow threw for 5,671 yards, 60 touchdowns, and six interceptions for LSU in 2019, ultimately winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Tigers to a national championship win.

All of this led to the Cincinnati Bengals recently selecting Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. 

LeBron James went to Cleveland after growing up in Ohio

One of the best basketball players to ever play was from Ohio. That is, obviously, LeBron James. After being born and raised in Akron, Ohio, James played high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary (STVM) High School in Akron. James was one of the most electric high school athletes of all-time too.

He led STVM to three state championships and one national championship, according to the school’s site. James also won three Ohio Mr. Basketball awards at STVM, according to MaxPreps, and scored 2,646 career points. 

After dominating in high school, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. Since then, he has, obviously, been one of the best basketball players to ever play. James has won three NBA championships, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, three Finals MVP awards, four league MVPs, and is the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

Now, looking at both Burrow’s path and James’ path, there are certainly some similarities between the two. 

Burrow and James had similar paths to professional sports

Joe Burrow is going to the Cincinnati Bengals. Looking at his path to becoming a pro, it is pretty similar to the path of LeBron James.
(L-R) LeBron James and Joe Burrow | LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP via Getty Images; Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Joe Burrow had a lot of success in Ohio while in high school. He even won an Ohio Mr. Football award. He was later drafted No. 1 overall by a struggling franchise in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, who went 2-14 in 2019, have not won one Super Bowl ever. The organization has also not won a playoff game since the 1990 season.

LeBron James also had a ton of success in Ohio while in high school. He also won some Ohio Mr. Basketball awards. James was later drafted No. 1 overall by a struggling organization in the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers, who went 17-65 the season before drafting James, had never even been to the NBA Finals. They had also not made it past the first round of the NBA playoffs since 10 years prior to that in 1992-93. 

While they maybe did not have identical paths, LeBron James and Joe Burrow certainly had similar paths to becoming professional athletes. They both were stars at their Ohio high schools and then were later drafted No. 1 overall by struggling Ohio franchises. James was looked at as the potential savior of the Cleveland Cavaliers and now Burrow is the potential savior of the Cincinnati Bengals. James ultimately turned the Cavaliers’ fortunes around by winning the franchise its first-ever championship in 2016. Maybe, Burrow can do the same thing for the Bengals. Their fans certainly need it.