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2023 NASCAR Cup Champ Falls Prey to the Lebron James’ Son Bronny’s Biggest Dilemma, Sympathizes For 1 Valid Reason

Being a celebrity kid and acclaimed sports celebrity is a pressure many are unaware of. Just ask Ryan Blaney, son of sprint car racing icon “Buckeye Bullet” Dave Blaney. Or even Bronny James Jr, the eldest child of four-time NBA champion Lebron James. Living up to the expectations of a winning legacy acts as an enormous weight on the shoulders of young athletes hoping to make a name for themselves, following in the footsteps of their more accomplished family members.
Although Blaney has duly overtaken his own father to claim a more personal brand of NASCAR notoriety, he faces scrutiny similar to the kind his much younger NCAA counterpart faces. Criticisms for trying to live up to a famous name within a sport that has once been claimed by a relative who did just as well, if not better, while donning it.
Ryan Blaney and Bronny James Jr’s battles over having a famous father
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When a beloved sports star hangs up their respective basketball sneakers, racing helmets, or gloves (take your pick), the spotlight subsequently and quite unfairly falls onto their next of kin. Dave Blaney couldn’t possibly have predicted these fortunes for his son right after making his final recorded Cup series start in Bristol almost ten years ago. Neither could the other racing dads who watch their sons compete for points every other weekend in NASCAR’s premier tier.
From Bill Elliott to Randy Lajoie, many stars from the yesteryears boast the privilege of calling themselves former NASCAR drivers, as their next of kin make commendable advances at adding to their family’s existing legacies. But this puts their kids under a constant microscope owing to the demanding nature of the fans they had once established a significant connection with.
Likewise, Bronny James, a consensus four-star recruit for the upcoming NBA draft of 2024 and the eldest son of ‘King’ James, has often been under ruthless dissection, even after formerly emerging as a top-ten prospect for teams looking for the next superstar this season. Despite a scary cardiac arrest last year, many scouts suggest Bronny’s average performance as a senior all-American for the USC Trojans doesn’t guarantee him a spot in this year’s draft.
In a recent statement to FOX Sports, Ryan Blaney opined on these speculations, “He has more pressure on him than I ever did… I mean, being LeBron James’ kid, one of the greatest basketball players ever to do it, that’s a ton of pressure. That’s, like, another level.”
USA Today via Reuters May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
But to drive the sentiments home, the defending NASCAR champ provided a relatable point of association, stating, “I think those kids — I’m 30 now — I see those 18-year-old kids with high expectations that are just thrust on their shoulders. Everyone wants them to be perfect. They’re kids. Don’t expect too much of them. Just let them do their thing. Let them grow, be who they want to be. And their work ethic has gotta be really great, too. I can relate to them a little bit.”
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As things currently stand, speculation swirls around Bronny James’ NBA career, but any conclusions drawn about his draft fate will have to wait until June 26-27. But with the latest Bill France trophy comfortably gracing the Blaney household, Ryan’s NASCAR career has arguably sent most naysayers on a path of self-doubt and bitterness.
Different paths, similar pressure?
In a harrowing contrast, Dave Blaney & Lebron James have led vastly differing careers in their own respective pursuits of glory. From winning the ROTY award in 2004, the year James welcomed a baby Bronny alongside his wife Savannah James, to winning multiple shining awards within the realm of basketball, Lebron James has steadily staked his claim in debates involving the Jordans, Russells, or Bryants as the greatest NBA player of all time.
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On the other hand, the Buckeye Bullet has garnered various achievements, mostly specific to USAC, across his incredible four-decade-plus racing career. Nevertheless, Dave Blaney’s 17-year-long premier-series stint in NASCAR resulted in no wins for the current owner of Sharon Speedway.
Although a solitary 2006 Busch Series triumph in Charlotte rings loud for Ryan Blaney’s iconic father, it is safe to say that with his son’s rapid advance in the #12 Team Penske Ford, papa Dave will only look forward to the 2023 champion’s future prospects. Just like Lebron will, with Bronny James Jr leading up to the 2024 NBA draft.

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