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LeBron James reacts to death of journalist Grant Wahl: ‘It’s a tragic loss’

PHILADELPHIA — Before the world knew LeBron James, Grant Wahl knew him.

Wahl was a scribe at Sports Illustrated in 2002 when he penned a story that featured an exuberant James – a high school standout at Akron, Ohio’s St. Vincent-St. Mary – on the cover with the teaser “THE CHOSEN ONE.” For much of America, it was their introduction to a basketball phenom who would go on to become one of the most famous athletes in the world.

James still remembered the excitement of being a high school prospect, sitting for his first big story and cover shoot more than two decades ago whenever he thought of Wahl.

“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. “Even when I moved up in 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. V.”

But on Friday, the memory was summoned by the bitter news that Wahl, 49, had died while covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The details available on Friday night were sparse: The Associated Press reported that Wahl fell back in his seat during the quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands. While emergency personnel responded quickly, journalists present at his collapse were later told he had died.

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