• LeBron James and Chris Paul ride their bikes at the LeBron James State Farm King For Kids Bike-a-thon at the Canal Park Stadium on August 22, 2009 in Akron (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
One of the biggest sport stars in the world, basketball colossus Lebron James, is planning to give out free bikes and helmets as part of his 'I Promise' school charity program.
Cycling Central

8 Aug 2018 - 10:55 AM  UPDATED 8 Aug 2018 - 12:52 PM

Regarded as one of the best-ever to play basketball and with a list of endorsement deals that sees the Los Angeles Lakers star rack up piles of cash, Lebron James isn't necessarily the first person you think of when it comes to cycling.

That hasn't stopped the from including free bikes and helmets as a key part of his plan for his 'I Promise' school. James has funded free college (Australian equivalent university) education for disadvantaged youth from James' home state of Ohio, but 2018 is the year that his foundation will open its first elementary (Australian equivalent primary) school.

James' commitment to provide bikes for the children is reflective of his own childhood, growing up in Akron, Ohio, where the new school is located.

“Everything I do comes from my childhood, from my growing up, and what I feel was part of my success,” James said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

“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.”

It wasn't just a practical means of transport but also a release and an escape for the then-youth from Akron.

“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.”

This isn't James first foray into cycling since his childhood, with the star hosting a number of Bike-a-thons for charity and even owning a stake in bike manufacturer Cannondale in the past.  

One of the most famous people in the world, James is also a businessman. He has the NBA's top endorsement portfolio with Nike, Coca-Cola (Sprite), Beats By Dre, Kia Motor, Intel and Blaze Pizza and also has ownership stakes in a number of successful enterprises including top football club Liverpool F.C.