LeBron James had a good reason for missing practice yesterday. He became a father.

The Cavaliers star guard and his longtime girlfriend, a 19-year-old Akron, Ohio, woman, had a baby boy yesterday. No other details were available. James left the team's training camp in Columbus, Ohio, to be with her and his new son. He was expected to rejoin the team today as he prepares for his second NBA season. . . .

Sam Cassell and the Minnesota Timberwolves apparently are back on good terms. Cassell's agent said the point guard would report to practice after skipping the team's media day and the first day of workouts. Cassell, 34, was unhappy about not getting a contract extension.

* AUTO RACING: A day after giving Dale Earnhardt Jr. a $10,000 fine and the loss of 25 points for cursing during a postrace TV interview, NASCAR handed down 12 more penalties for rules violations at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The hardest hit was Roush Racing, which received four of the penalties for making unapproved rear spoiler adjustments on the No. 16 Ford of Greg Biffle.

Biffle was penalized 25 points, and car owner Geoff Smith, also the Roush team's general manager, lost 25 points. Also, crew chief Doug Richert was fined $25,000 and crew member Michael Hillman Jr. was suspended until Oct. 20 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Biffle remained 20th in the standings.

* BOXING: The Senate passed a resolution asking President Bush to pardon former champion Jack Johnson, a black man convicted more than 90 years ago of taking a white woman across state lines.

Johnson won the black heavyweight world title in 1903 and then knocked out white champion Tommy Burns in Australia in 1908. He then solidified his title two years later by beating former champ Jim Jeffries, who was known as the "Great White Hope" and came out of retirement for the bout.

In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act by traveling between states with his white girlfriend Belle Schreiber. It was the first time the law, which outlawed transporting women across state lines for "prostitution or debauchery or for any other immoral purpose," had been used against individual consenting adults rather than organized crime syndicates.

-- From News Services