On a snowy Saturday afternoon in Harlem, the buzz was growing inside the Frederick Douglass Boys & Girls Club as eager youngsters filed into the building with one thing on their minds.

“LeBron James! LeBron James!” one boy eagerly repeated as he stood in line, awaiting the start of a special program with a not-so-secret surprise guest.

As part of a longstanding partnership between Sprite and the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF), King James continued his All-Star tradition of helping to support Boys & Girls Clubs in the game’s host city by refurbishing two local clubs – one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan, matching the dual-hosting nature of the NBA All-Star 2015.

Approximately 200 Boys & Girls club members, staff and dignitaries were on hand at the Frederick Douglass Center to see the improvements made to the gym – new floors, baskets, wall padding and paint – and visit the brand-new LeBron James Lab, a completely renovated computer room where students will get to use the latest in educational software.

“You deserve a gym and a community center as amazing as you,” New York City councilman Mark Levine told the students.

The work at the Boys & Girls Clubs was part of James’ 23 Acts of Kindness across New York during NBA All-Star, and Sprite helped make this act even bigger by donating $20,000 to the Clubs’ technological initiatives.

Sprite LeBron

“From all the efforts we do every year, this is the one I am most proud of,” said Kimberly Paige, Vice President, Sprite Brand and Flavors, Coca-Cola North America. “We hope you enjoy the new facility.”

To the shrieks of his young fans, James appeared from behind a curtain and told the students why his work with the Boys & Girls Club was so important. 

“The kids bring me back," James said. "I run around a lot on All-Star weekend, but I’m glad this is always the last thing I have to do, because it gives me a boost of energy to see these kids. I’m not that far removed from being one of them, and understanding the daily sacrifices and hardships they go through. I love kids.”

James answered questions from Facebook fans and also from a few students, who wanted to know his favorite pre-game meal and his favorite color.

The scene was similar across town two days earlier, when the LJFF and Sprite unveiled the new learning spaces at the Thomas S. Murphy Clubhouse. James was playing in Chicago, but his team made it a festive event featuring dancing, gifts and a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

“Our teen population will potentially quadruple because now we have a great space for them to call a second home,” said Stan King, clubhouse director.

For Sprite and James, it’s that kind of result that makes the partnership worthwhile.

“This day is for you guys,” James concluded. “Anytime I can use my star power to benefit kids, I’m all for it. You guys may say thanks to me, but I want to say thanks to you guys for allowing myself, for allowing Sprite, for allowing the Boys & Girls Club to be able to put something together for you guys.”