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LeBron James Recounts the Time He Thought He Was Going to Die in a Plane Crash

Dec. 18, 2017
4 min read
LeBron James Recounts the Time He Thought He Was Going to Die in a Plane Crash
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What would the world be like without LeBron James? We may never know, but it was once possible, according to the man himself.

On December 11, the NBA superstar appeared on UNINTERRUPTED's Road Trippin’ podcast with teammate Dwayne Wade and recounted a terrifying time on a team trip. LeBron had complained to the team's management about how old the team's aircraft was when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.

A few years into his career, LeBron brought up the subject again with the Cav's new owner, Dan Gilbert, who again brushed off his comments. But after a harrowing experience that included broken ankles and lots of puke, the team's leadership decided to invest in a new airplane.

Hear about the near-death experience from LeBron himself:

"Our team plane at the time, I had always complained about our team plane. It was old. It was run down — and I’m not even a guy who is afraid of flights. I had one scare — the first time I had ever flew — and then after that, I was good.
But I always felt something could happen to this plane. It was painted the old Cavs colors, Carolina blue and orange. It was the old plane, and they owned it. The team owned that plane. But it was over. I noticed it, and this was the first year our new regime took over the team. I was like, 'Listen, if you want to start with helping us become a better franchise, we need a new fucking plane.'
So anyway, long story short, we take the plane from Cleveland … and we go to Detroit to pick up the ownership, because that’s where they’re based at. So we go to Detroit, pick up everybody in Detroit, and we’re now taking the plane from Detroit to Houston. When I tell you every single body on the plane from Detroit to Houston thought they were going to die. I mean literally.
Our owner’s wife was pregnant at the time — she threw up multiple times. A couple of my family members — DJ Montage — threw up. Our stewardess broke her ankle. We looked into the kitchen at one point during the flight and there was smoke coming out of the kitchen. The lights were flickering on and off. I was like, 'Oh my God, no one wants to listen to me. I believe this is it.' Obviously, I’m still here to talk about it. Nothing happened — but the following year, we had a new plane."

It appears that the team operated an old Boeing 737-200 around the time of the incident. According to, the aircraft was delivered in 1975 to Frontier Airlines and was also operated by Southwest and Continental Airlines. The Cavaliers stored the 737 in November of 2006 and now usually charter aircraft from Delta.

Possibly referring to the same incident, LeBron's old Cavaliers teammate Drew Gooden said that LeBron told him that he would be able to survive a plane crash by strapping pillows to himself and jumping out of the airplane right before it crashed into the ground.

You can listen to the podcast here, and LeBron fills in the details about the plane incident about 33 minutes into the program.

H/T: Complex

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