GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The bike riding tradition between Packers’ players and young fans has been a staple in the community for decades, but second year wide receiver Samori Toure has formed a bond with 17-year-old Aiden Dunlap that goes beyond the bike.
During training camp, hundreds of Packers’ fans line the streets of Oneida and Armed Forces Drive to get a glimpse of the players as they head to practice. Some younger fans are even lucky enough to have a player choose them to ride their bike to Ray Nitschke Field to practice. Last year, then rookie, Samori Toure heard his number called out from the crowd.
“[Toure] was looking for a bike and I yelled out ‘Hey 83! Want to ride?’ He nodded his head and came over to take my bike and we’ve done it ever since”, said Green Bay resident Dunlap.
After that first bike ride in the summer of 2022, Dunlap became an instant fan. A jersey was the next thing on his mind. He went to the Packers Pro-Shop to show his support for Toure.
“I’ve got a green one, a white one. I mean, my whole family has one”, Dunlap expressed.
Toure expressed his appreciation for Dunlap in the locker room this week. Local 5 asked Toure about their bike riding tradition and mentioned how cool it is.
“I’ve been riding with him ever since last year when he had my jersey on”, Toure said. “I’ve been going with him every time.”
Throughout their daily rides to practice, the two formed a relationship outside of the short commute to work. Aiden’s mother got ahold of Toure to set up a surprise.
“I got in contact with his mom. Sometimes they show up at the airport before road games and I actually surprised him at his birthday party. It’s been a cool little thing”, Toure said.
When Samori walked in the door to celebrate Aiden’s birthday – it was pure shock.
“I had no idea. My parents invited him and when he showed up I was amazed he was there. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was amazing,” Dunlap said. “I was sitting there and he came up and he was like ‘Hey, what’s going on?!’ I said ‘Oh! I wasn’t expecting to see you here!’ It was really cool.”
As many fans look to Toure as just a Packers player, he’s been more to Dunlap. A friend and someone he can count on to make his day that much better.
“He’s such a cool guy. I can’t really ask any more out of him. He’s still a normal person like everyone else. He’s just a professional athlete,” Dunlap said.
For Toure, having fans like Aiden and the support from the community of Green Bay is one of the coolest things about being a professional athlete.
“That’s something that never gets old. It’s always a blessing. We’re lucky to be in a place with a community like Green Bay and we’re excited every day to come out there and see that,” Toure explained.
With Aiden being 17 years old, this summer will be his last that he’ll have the opportunity to ride bikes with the players. He described his interactions with Toure as ‘special.’
“To be able to know a professional athlete and to be able to just call him and say ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ is just amazing,” Dunlap expressed. “He’s just like one of my guys. I can call him whenever and he’d be like ‘Sure, I can do something with you and be there for you.’ It means the world. To know a Packer player and to know someone who’s playing for this organization is just amazing. It’s really cool.”
The experience Dunlap has had the last two years riding to practice with Toure is something he hopes every Packers fan can do once in their lifetime. As Green Bay gears up for a new era of football with so much youth on the roster, Aiden is hoping to see a lot more of number 83 on the field.
“Hopefully more touchdown dances,” Dunlap laughed.