HomeSportsLeBron James Pays Respects to Soccer Journalist Grant Wahl, Who Passed Away Covering World Cup

LeBron James Pays Respects to Soccer Journalist Grant Wahl, Who Passed Away Covering World Cup

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

American soccer journalist Grant Wahl passed away while covering the World Cup Quarterfinal match between Argentina and the Netherlands Friday in Qatar.

His sudden death has rocked the sports world, many athletes paying tribute to the esteemed sportswriter. Before his work helped advanced the sport in the states, Wahl covered basketball at Sports Illustrated where his most famous story came about. In 2002, LeBron James was 17 years old and dubbed “The Chosen One.” It was the title of Wahl’s piece on the now NBA superstar.

James, who learned of his death after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 133-122 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, paid tribute to Wahl after the game.

“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, per the New York Post. “And he was always pretty cool to be around. He spent a lot of time in my hometown of Akron covering me over the course of time before that cover story came out. And I’ve always kind of watched from a distance.

“Even when I moved up 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. Vincent’s]. So, it’s a tragic loss. It’s unfortunate to lose someone as great as he was and I wish his family, like I said, the best. And may he rest in paradise.”

Grant Wahl Passes Away While Covering World Cup in Qatar

Wahl, 48, received CPR after collapsing during the match before being taken to a nearby hospital. Wahl revealed on his podcast earlier this week he had bronchitis and was “not 100 percent.” He had been outspoken of the World Cup taking place in Qatar. Wahl was detained earlier in the tournament for wearing a rainbow short in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

His brother, Eric Wahl, meanwhile, said in an Instagram post he believes his brother was killed after he received death threats.

“My name is Eric Wahl. I live in Seattle, Washington. I am Grant Wahl’s brother. I’m gay,” he said in the video. “I’m the reason he wore the rainbow shirt to the World Cup. My brother was healthy. He told me he received death threats. I do not believe my brother just died. I believe he was killed. And I just beg for any help”