Thurgood Marshall’s Juwan Staten is comforted by Cleveland Cavalier star and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary alum LeBron James following their 59-53 loss in the D-II state championship finals in 2009. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer

Staten’s huddle with LeBron recaptured by ESPN

Overcome with grief after having lost a state championship basketball game, former Thurgood Marshall High School standout Juwan Staten was consoled by the best: LeBron James.

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Staten’s well-documented brush with the NBA trend-setter received added mileage on espn.com on Monday.

Staten was an elusive and high-scoring junior guard in leading Thurgood to a Division II state championship showdown against Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in 2009. He tallied 28 points in a 59-53 loss.

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Afterward, he broke down. James, an Akron SVSM alum who already had established himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was among the first to console Staten at Ohio State University Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

“[James] grabbed me close,” ESPN quoted Staten. “He told me that he lost a state final his junior year. He told me I was a special player and to keep my head up. He told me to remember the moment for the rest of my life. He told me to let that drive me for the rest of my life, never to feel like that again. Those were wise words, and I’ve tried to live by them.”

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A photo capturing the moment was shot by former Dayton Daily News photographer Jim Witmer.

That was one of 13 memorable instances ESPN recalled of LeBron through the years. It coincides with his 13 appearances in the NBA playoffs.

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That would be the last game Staten would play for Thurgood. He transferred to national prep power Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior season. He started as a freshman guard at the University of Dayton in the 2010-11 season, then transferred to West Virginia, where he played for Bob Huggins his final three seasons.

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Staten averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 assists as the Finnish League Foreign MVP in 2017 for the Salon Vilpas Vikings.

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