LeBron James made a surprise visit to the Harlem YMCA Tuesday to share his love of bikes with local teens.
The three-time NBA champ delighted a few dozen unsuspecting youngsters gathered at the Y, when he showed up to announce that he and ride-share company Lyft would be giving out free Citi Bike memberships to local youths in the spring.
The teens weren’t told the Lakers star would be there, but their excitement began to grow when they were shown a video of kids riding bikes with a voiceover by James — then shrieked with excitement when the man himself walked in at the end.
James has been outspoken about his love for cycling, and was even occasionally spotted riding to and from home games while playing for the Miami Heat.
“I was a kid who grew up in the inner city back in Ohio riding bikes,” said James, who is in town to face off against the Knicks Wednesday night.
“What bikes did for me — to be able to travel across the city with my friends to get from my home to school, or to get to basketball practices or football practices … it’s a segue to be able to do so many things that can also carry you for the rest of your life,” James added.
He also stressed the importance of building bike lanes to keep people safe while riding.
“Safety is always first, and for the city to understand that bike lane is very important for the kids’ safety,” he said. “For adults that want to ride, too. So this is very important.”
A blog post from Lyft, which owns Citi Bike’s parent company, said locals between the ages of 16 and 20 will be able to sign up for the free memberships as part of a partnership with James, though didn’t specify how many would ultimately be handed out.
The 50 teens in attendance at the Harlem have gifted the first one-year memberships, according to the company.
James, who is less than 100 points away from surpassing Kobe Bryant for third on the all-time NBA scoring list, said he still has a few bikes at his house in Akron.
But he stopped riding to games after leaving Florida.
“I used to [ride in] Miami all the time. Just Miami,” he said. “I didn’t bike in Ohio. I mean, I live in Akron. That trip is” — he chuckled — “too far.”