Barack Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Chicago YMCA He Used to Frequent When Sasha and Malia Were 'Itty-Bitty'

"I used to bring the girls here when they were just itty bitty things," the former president said of the South Side rec center

Barack Obama
Barack Obama at a South Side YMCA. Photo: The Obama Foundation/Twitter

Barack Obama surprised a group of Chicago kids this week, making an unannounced trip to the same South Side YMCA he used to frequent when his daughters were young.

"I heard the @ChicagoSky and @ChicagoBulls were visiting the South Side YMCA, so I decided to drop by, too. It's always fun to meet young people who are learning to love the game," the former president, 60, wrote on Twitter.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Obama made his surprise entrance as student athletes were participating in drills with members of the Chicago Sky and Chicago Bulls basketball teams.

While there, Obama spoke to the students about the importance of the YMCA — and the personal significance of the South Side rec center where he was speaking.

"We used to have birthday parties here," Obama said. "We used to occasionally shoot some hoops here."

"I used to bring the girls here when they were just itty bitty things," he continued, referencing his now-adult daughters: Sasha, 20, and Malia, 23. "And this was a community center and a place of refuge for kids."

Never one to miss out on time on the court, the Tribune reports that Obama even made one of his own shots during the practice, joking with a photographer about editing out the shots he missed.

The former president and former first lady Michelle Obama are in Chicago this week for a series of Obama Foundation events related to his upcoming Obama Presidential Center, which broke ground in September and is also located on the city's South Side.

This marks Obama's second surprise appearance in recent days. On Tuesday, the former president surprised a group of children when he stopped by a vaccination clinic taking place at Kimball Elementary School in Southeast D.C., The Washington Post reports.

Obama was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, and handed out stickers and words of encouragement to the group of five to 11-year-olds gathered at the clinic.

"We are just getting through the holiday season and we have one more thing to be thankful for, which is that we can get kids vaccinated if they're between the ages of 5 and 11," Obama said to the crowd of students, teachers and parents gathered at the clinic.

He added, "Nobody really loves getting a shot. I don't love getting a shot. But I do it because it's going to help keep me healthy."

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