BY CHARLES RABIN, crabin@MiamiHerald.com
He doesn't carry the celebrity cache of Justin Bieber — but the man he says is his son, does.
Eddie Gene Jackson, who police say identified himself as the father of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, was arrested in Miami Beach on charges of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license early Wednesday morning, less than three weeks after Bieber was arrested in the city on the same charge.
Jackson, 47, isn’t LeBron’s dad. He’s an older friend of James dating back to the superstar’s high school days in Akron, Ohio, a man who James has referred to in the past as his “surrogate dad.”
He’s someone who James has said helped support him while he played high school ball for Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High before the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers chose him first overall in the 2003 draft.
According to police, Jackson was pulled over at 4:08 a.m. after nearly running a red light at 20th Street and Washington Avenue, and almost careening into a patrol car entering the intersection at the same time.
After refusing a sobriety test, police said, Jackson showed the Miami Beach officer a Fraternal Order of Police badge, then displayed what is probably his most coveted prize: a National Basketball Association championship ring from one of the Heat’s past two titles.
That’s when, police said, Jackson told the officer his “son was LeBron James of the Miami Heat.”
“I had come to a stop as it appeared the vehicle was going to run the red light,” the officer wrote in the arrest affidavit. “I was attempting to avoid a collision.
The arresting officer, Steven Cosner, was the same cop who spotted Bieber and his pal Khalil Sharieff driving their rented sports cars in Miami Beach before the pop star was busted Jan. 23.
It makes sense, Beach police spokeswoman, Detective Vivian Hernandez, said: Cosner works the overnight shift, and Bieber was arrested around the same time, at 4:18 a.m.
The arrest report written by Cosner, said Jackson claimed he spent most of this time in Akron, before saying he had come from working at a club on Collins Avenue and 20th Street. He said Jackson showed him a work permit that allowed him to drive between noon and midnight.
Then he noticed Jackson’s bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, the report says, and ordered Jackson out of his car, a white 2013 Mercedes SL550.
“He became belligerent and and insulting as I walked him to my vehicle,” Cosner wrote.
At that point, the officer said, Jackson agreed to a roadside test, and failed.
Jackson’s arrest isn’t the first time James has had to deal with alleged off-court theatrics of those close to him.
In April 2011, James' mom Gloria Marie James was busted by Miami Beach cops for allegedly assaulting an attendant at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel, after complaining he took too long to retrieve her car. The charge was later dropped after James agreed to community service and a $1,000 donation to a Haiti earthquake relief fund.
James was out of town Wednesday on an extended road trip that will be interrupted this weekend by the NBA All-Star game on Sunday in New Orleans. James was selected to start for the Eastern All-Stars.