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LeBron James hangs out with the little people in Akron

August 11, 2010 | 12:14 pm
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For those used to seeing NBA star LeBron James on the basketball court, or perhaps in a one-hour TV special, here's a slightly different view -- the Miami Heat newbie hit the road on two wheels in his native Akron, Ohio, leading the fifth annual State Farm King for Kids Bike-a-Thon.

The man nicknamed "King James" wore a helmet as his crown during the ride on Saturday. He told the crowd it was the most precious day of the year for him, Sports Ilustrated reported, "because I'm able to give back to the city that I grew up in, the city that I love. And the city that I will always give back to."

James presented event proceeds to local organizations, the Akron Beacon-Journal reported ...

... giving checks for $75,000 each to the Akron Urban League and the Akron Area YMCA, with a surprise $30,000 pop for the city's youth basketball program. With a smaller crowd this year, a city spokesman told the paper that an 8-mile ride that usually accompanies the 1-mile kids jaunt was nixed ''in consideration of the city's finances."

It was James' first public appearance since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Heat -- see more pics below.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Top photo: LeBron James, right, finishes his ride in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday. Credit: Phil Long / Associated Press

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Photo: LeBron James gets a reaction from Akron residents Casey Miller, 14, center, and Michael Connalley, 11, right, while playing a game during the taping of the Nickelodeon show "Brain Surge" after the bike-a-thon. Credit: Phil Long / Associated Press

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Photo: LeBron James waves to bike riders before the start of the bike-a-thon. Credit: Phil Long / Associated Press

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Photo: The ride begins. Credit: Phil Long / Associated Press

Related dispatch from the Ministry of Gossip:

Carmelo Anthony, Lala Vazquez get married in New York

We have more about charitable efforts, or you can just skip to the gossip about professional athletes.

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