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Beats to bikes, this son of St. Petersburg is giving back

Tre Gilliam found success in the music business. Now he’s trying to make Christmas merry for kids in need.
Music producer Tre Gilliam hangs out during his event, the Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, in its second year. Gilliam purchased the bikes and registered families with the help of family and friends, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg.
Music producer Tre Gilliam hangs out during his event, the Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, in its second year. Gilliam purchased the bikes and registered families with the help of family and friends, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Dec. 22, 2021
Updated Dec. 23, 2021

Rod Wave. Lil Durk. NBA Youngboy.

“Have you heard of them?” asks Tre Gilliam during a phone interview.

Those are just some of the names that Gilliam, 20, lists while talking about his work in the music business. The young, multi-platinum music producer was born in St. Petersburg and attended John Hopkins Middle School and Gibbs High School. He shifted his energy from sports to music after a shin fracture put an end to a promising high school basketball career.

Tapping into his skills with the drums and keys, he channeled his energy into producing music. His efforts have paid off, earning him platinum- and gold-certified singles and albums working alongside chart-topping artists like Roddy Ricch and Moneybagg Yo.

Tre Gilliam works in the studio
Tre Gilliam works in the studio [ Courtesy of Tre Gilliam ]

Last year Gilliam and his family came up with a last-minute idea to give away bikes to children in the neighborhood for the holidays. With the help of his family and friends, Gilliam collected enough bikes to help up to 40 families.

“I bought them,” he said of the bikes. “We just went to the Walmart and put them on the back of Dad’s truck. Walmart to Walmart.”

Bikes for children registered for the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg.
Bikes for children registered for the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

The news spread in casual ways, including word of mouth and social media. Gilliam’s mom got on the phone to register families who expressed interest.

This year Gilliam and his team are doing it all over again, and the giveaway has an official name: Tre Made This Beat Second Annual Bike Giveaway, a play on his tagline as a producer, Tre Made this Beat.

Ja’Kai Allen, 3, smiles after being placed on a new bike during the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg.
Ja’Kai Allen, 3, smiles after being placed on a new bike during the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Gilliam had help this time. A contact from Gibbs put him in touch with All Children’s Hospital, which provided 100 helmets. Family and friends gave food for the Dec. 23 event, including what Gilliam describes as a summertime spread of hot dogs and hamburgers. They created a Google form to register families, spread the news using social media and online flyers.

Armani Lee, 4, and JR Draughn, 9, hang out in the back of their grandfather’s pickup truck where their new bikes had been loaded up, during the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg.
Armani Lee, 4, and JR Draughn, 9, hang out in the back of their grandfather’s pickup truck where their new bikes had been loaded up, during the second annual Tre Made This Beat Bike Giveaway, hosted by music producer Tre Gilliam, Thursday, Dec. 23 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

After last year’s event, Gilliam said the impact of his efforts hit home.

“We pulled that off,” he said. “That was a good moment, as we thought about it, the smiles on kids’ faces.”