Despite the noise surrounding the move thanks to the president, LeBron James is still celebrating the opening of a fully-funded public school in Akron. The president insulting his intelligence on Twitter doesn’t take away from the fact that 240 children in Ohio have had their education changed forever, and part of attending James’ school includes getting a bike at no charge.
Bikes are important to James, and he wanted the third and fourth graders at the ‘I Promise’ school to have the opportunity to ride one just like he did. James explained that bikes could help him get away from trouble in his neighborhood when he was growing up.
As it turns out, he felt strongly enough about the mode of transportation that he gave an interview to Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal about the bicycle and his love of riding. Gay is a self-proclaimed “massive bike dork” and James is a bit of an enthusiast himself, even today. Gay noted that James once rode a mountain bike to the arena on game nights. He’s hosted bike-a-thons in Ohio and even had a stake in a bicycle maker in the past.
James called the bicycle “a way of life” during the interview, but his connection to the mode of transportation is more than just about sightseeing.
“A bicycle, for me, was the only way to get around the city. If I wanted to meet some of my friends, travel across the city, go to school, play basketball—anything—the bicycle was the way I got around.”
But that was just part of it. A bicycle also represented freedom, James said.
“Me and my friends, when we got on our bikes, we would just ride,” he recalled. “Sometimes we would even get lost, because we’d be gone for so long. But there was a sense of joy and comfort. There was nothing that really could stop us. We felt like we were on top of the world.”
“It was a way of life. If you had a bike, it was a way to kind of let go and be free.”
James said he couldn’t remember exactly what his first bike was, but he talked about the Mongoose bike you probably had from Walmart when you were growing up. You know, the one with the pegs on the back so your friend could ride while holding your shoulders if someone was down a pair of wheels.
LeBron shows off some serious bike knowledge during the interview, speaking about events like Critical Mass and talking about different styles of bikes. He also said he’s scoped out the bike scene in Los Angeles and is excited to explore the space a bit now that he’s playing for the Lakers.
“I’ve seen a few bike paths around Los Angeles,” James said. “I know Santa Monica has a great bike path down there on the beach…I’m looking forward to that.”
Would he consider riding to home games at Staples Center? “Oh my goodness,” James said. “That would be a hump. I would be able to avoid the highway traffic, though.”
What’s interesting is that James said he can get out on a bike and sometimes not be noticed, which must be a relief for one of the most visible athletes on the planet, even if it’s a bit surprising.
The whole piece is really worth reading even if you’re not an avid cyclist. It’s a really good glimpse into James’ mind and what he wants to accomplish with the school, and the interview is a chance for James to explain a part of his non-basketball world that lots of fans might not know about.
Unfortunately, it might result in President Trump declaring a preference for unicycles, but these are the times we live in and we’ll have to deal with that when it comes.