From left, Juan Valencia, Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe, Vanessa Bryant,… (Jesse Grant / Getty Images…)
Yes, the main event at last week’s Hublot event in West Hollywood was to announce that the Swiss luxury watch brand had tapped Laker Kobe Bryant as its newest brand ambassador – and to unveil the limited-edition King Power Black Mamba timepiece designed in his honor. But it also raised $30,000 for charity.
Hublot, which likes to include a charitable element with its high-profile celebrity events (an October 2011 event in Beverly Hills with Usain Bolt, for example, raised $100,000 for the Jamaican sprinter’s foundation), pledged $10,000 for each basket made at the March 20 event – but not by Bryant.
No, the charitable shootout put the basketball in the hands of two kids from After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles, 7-year-old Kimberly Martinez and 8-year-old Juan Valencia, with Bryant in full Coach Kobe mode, offering vocal support to the kids decked out in Hublot-emblazoned basketball jerseys and shorts and sporting brand-new Nike sneakers as they tried to sink the ball on a makeshift court built over the London Hotel’s rooftop pool.
Juan made two buckets, earning a cool $20,000 donation by Hublot to the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (a longtime supporter of the After-School All Stars, Los Angeles program) while Kimberly struggled at the line – until Bryant stepped in for the assist, scooping the little girl up and hoisting her to the rim where she easily scored the final $10,000 basket.
Afterward, Juan told us he’d been practicing for the event “for a couple of days” and proclaimed the experience “really fun.”
“I really dreamed of doing that,” he said. ”I am a Kobe fan!”
Kimberly described her performance as “a little bit better” than she’d expected – and said she hadn’t expected the scoop assist from Bryant. “I was surprised that he did that,” she confided to us.
We also had a chance to chat briefly with After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles president and executive director Ana Campos, who told us a little bit more about the support her organization receives from the Bryant’s foundation.
“It’s because of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant [Family Foundation] that we’re able to send 10 students a year to China,” Campos said. She said that the international program, now entering its fourth year, is designed to introduce high school sophomores and juniors to Chinese history, culture and the Mandarin language.
Campos said her organization works annually with some 8,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade students throughout the Los Angeles basin.
In addition to the $30,000 -- presented by Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe to Kobe and Vanessa Bryant afterward in the form of an outsized check -- Hublot has pledged to donate a portion of proceeds from sales of the $25,200 watches to the Bryants' foundation.
A lightning-fast chat with Usain Bolt
Hublot signs deal to be Lakers 'official timekeeper'
Schwarzenegger turns out for after-school program he helped launch