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Kobe Bryant continues working to eradicate homelessness in L.A.

September 12, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Lakers star Kobe Bryant answers questions during a news conference at a youth center in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant answers questions during a news conference at a… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The scoring titles and the championship rings aren't enough.

Kobe Bryant, ever the competitor, wants more.

As his career enters its final seasons, the future NBA Hall of Famer acknowledged that he hopes his legacy transcends the inspiration he provides on the court for the Lakers.

“You have to do something that carries a little bit more weight to it, a little more significance, a little more purpose to it,” Bryant said Wednesday at an event in Hollywood to promote his work to help the homeless in Los Angeles. “My career is winding down. At the end of my career, I don’t want to look back and just say, ‘Well, I had a successful career because I won so many championships and scored so many points.’ There’s something else that you have to do with that.”

Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, who filed for divorce in December but continues to make public appearances with the Lakers star, have championed eradicating homelessness through their sponsorship of My Friend’s Place, a resource center in Hollywood that provides services to homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 25 and their children.

The facility served 1,741 homeless individuals last year by providing shelter, food, clothing, showers, transportation and other services. Bryant has supported the nonprofit organization for more than a year, saying he was drawn to the cause of eradicating homelessness because it is “kind of in the shadows” and something he could help publicize.

“This issue is one that kind of gets pushed on the back burner because it’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, ‘Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It’s your fault,’ ” Bryant said. “In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it … that’s not right.”

Bryant, 34, said helping homeless children was something that was particularly meaningful to him.

“Kids touch all of our hearts probably a little even more because it’s like they were born into this situation; they don’t have the opportunities that we had,” Bryant said. “We all had dreams, we all had goals, we all had aspirations and for them not to have that, it’s just not fair. We have to do something about it.”

Event organizers asked the media not to ask Bryant about the Lakers’ upcoming season, which the shooting guard alluded to in his comments about how he had seen his efforts improve the homeless situation in L.A.

“For starters, everybody’s here. All you guys are here,” he said, eyeing several reporters who cover the Lakers regularly. "We were able to kind of fool you guys [into thinking] we were going to talk about the Lakers’ season. It’s really all about raising awareness for the cause and giving kids a place where they can really feel at home.”

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