Kobe Bryant’s Inspiring Work With The Homeless In Los Angeles

In 2011, Kobe Bryant announced the formation of the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps youth and families in need.

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We spend an inordinate amount of time during this part of the offseason detailing things like what sort of workouts a player is going through and where they’re vacationing.

What doesn’t garner as many headlines is the work they do off the court: conducting free camps for kids, donating their time and money to charitable causes and getting outside of their comfort zone every now and then to use their stature as some of the world’s most recognizable face to a worthy cause.

And as Lakers star Kobe Bryant highlighted earlier this week while walking the downtown streets of Los Angeles with his wife, Vanessa, wading into the midst of that city’s homeless community. Sometimes, as ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Arash Markazi makes clear, it takes the bright light that only certain celebrities bring to draw attention to a particular cause:

While Bryant was there he met a 58-year-old man, who has been in and out of the mission for the past year.

“He was extremely articulate and he had a great life and he made a poor choice and ended up on the streets,” Bryant said. “He came to the L.A. Mission weighing 135 pounds and now he’s healthy and his weight is back up. He’s 58 but he’s in better shape than I am. … You get to hear their stories and you get to find out first-hand what’s going on.

“This issue gets pushed into the backburner because it’s easy to put the blame on those that are homeless and say you made that bad decision and that’s the reason why you are where you are and it’s your fault. We all make mistakes and to just sit back and watch this and to wash your hands of it by saying that’s your fault, that’s not right and it’s not fair.”

On Wednesday Kobe and Vanessa Bryant arrived at My Friend’s Place, a drop-in center for homeless youth in Hollywood, which annually serves about 1,700 individuals between the ages of 12 and 25. They were there to announce the completion of the center’s renovation, which was funded by the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.

“This isn’t a popular topic or a popular issue,” Bryant said. “It’s one where you have to get your hands dirty a little bit. It’s not something celebrities easily rally around but this is something that we wanted to change. This something we’re all going to have to fight, it’s going to be a long fight but I’m in it for the long haul.”

Bryant recalls seeing homeless people walking the streets outside the Forum at the beginning of his career and more recently at the Staples Center. He admits the epidemic became like white noise for him before he heard chilling statistics about homelessness in Los Angeles last year. According to a 2011 report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are 51,340 homeless people in Los Angeles County on a given day.

“It puts things into perspective,” Bryant said. “At the end of the day there’s only so many interviews you can do and stories you can write. You have to do something that carries more weight and has more significance and purpose to it.

“My career is winding down and at the end of it, I want to look back and said I had a successful career because I won so many championships and scored so many points. There’s something else you have to do with that.”

For all the debates we have around here about Kobe, his place in the game’s history, whether he’s still got it and whether he ranks on par (or beneath) Michael Jordan, this is one time when we can suspend the drama and applaud a player for being a human being first.

Love him or loathe him as a player, I dare even his biggest critics to object to anything he’s doing with My Friend’s Place. This is the sort of work fans of every team want to see their star players doing away from the game, using their considerable resources and influence to improve the lives of others who are maybe not as fortunate.

We can get back to the debates later.

But not right now …

63 Comments

  1. basketball says:

    great job people may hate kobe, but he’s doing the right thing and they have to agree with that

  2. Kevin Tyler says:

    That’s great Kobe,now let’s see if you can be unselfish on the court this year!Remember when
    Magic gave money back from his contract so the lakers could sign Bob McAdoo and Terry Tyler?Kobe let Shannon Brown,Trevor Ariza walk out the door without a fuss.I hope the laker’s amnesty him after this season to get some quality young guys to put around Dwight!

  3. Ace says:

    The sheep in Kobe’s flock are blind, stupid and gullible. The comments above prove this.

  4. Jenn says:

    I appreciate Kobe and Vanessa reaching out to the community. I’ve actually visited My Friends Place and they truly do need the help. This serves as a reminder to all of us whether we are billionaires, millionaires or even earning minimum wage, we can all reach out and lend help and give back, even if it’s just our time. While I applaud their role model behavior, not coz of their $s, but because it’s the right thing to do–and no amount of money should dictate our support, yet I say thank you to K&V. I hope Kobe makes my 60th birthday celebration :-)

  5. wisconsi says:

    kobe ur the best………..

  6. Louis says:

    Aa a black man, i have never been so pround to see Kobe do this. I am tired of these brothers who grew up in the inner city spend millions of dollars on cars and big mansions when people are going to bed hungry and dying because they cant afford the basic stuffs to get by. I salute you Mr Bryant, God will greatly reward you.

  7. Julie says:

    I belive Kobe is not only a great basketball player but a caring individual. He kows his fans are everywhere and are from every walk of life. So he deserves cheers for being a part of such a good deed for the unfortunate. Kobe way to go and much love from Houston……

  8. Bojeezy says:

    Personally, I don’t think this is a publicity stunt in any way. It isn’t even part of NBA Cares as far as I know. He is donating his own money to help these people who less fortunate than most of us are. There are probably more homeless people now because of the recession. I commend Kobe for even thinking of starting a foundation for these families. Unless you have seen the problem first hand it is kind of hard to imagine what it is like to go what they are going through everyday. I think Kobe and Gasol are doing there philanthropic deeds out of the goodness of their own heart. People can say what ever they want but if you continually see these high profile people giving back all the time, I have to commend it.

  9. johnt. says:

    back to the departure of Shaq, gave LA kids gifts before going to miami…..kobe your good a baller
    and the 1, 2, punch 3peat record cant be beat…. make the Diesel jersey retirerment unforgetable…….
    give the big hackashaq Love….! california (ia)* howard,nash,kobe

  10. Col says:

    I think Kobe is finally finding balance in his life between what he does publicly and what he does privately. This is an example of ‘Paying it Forward’ and I think a lot of people will be impressed that he also realises everyone needs a little help now and then, even the homeless.

    Agree with one of the statements that other basketball players also do this and you don’t to hear about it. The important point is at least he is taking decisive action to try to fix something that quite frankly successive governments have failed to tackle and if everybody took a stand to try and help the homeless then maybe homelessness will become a thing of the past.

    God bless to all the basketball players who are trying to do their bit, not just Kobe.

    Col

  11. big24fan says:

    True measure of a man is not what he had accomplished for himself but what himself accomplished for others. Good stuff Kobe. Since day 1 my dude i have been ur No.1 fan. lol since i was an 8th grader when u first got drafted to the NBA! damn i feel old…haha again…good good good stuff and keep it up.

    • ANDRE says:

      all the hating aside, i think what he’s doing off the court is a great way of giving back to the less unfortunate.

  12. Laker4life says:

    Kobe is a Turk lover. He doesn’t care. nly does what his agent tells him. If he cared, he would not support a country that commited the first genocide of the 20th century and denied it ever since even when the world agreed that they committed genocide.

  13. Lauda says:

    That’s why, along his espetacular play, he’s the most recognizable and ovaccionatedd player in London or any other place in the world (like here in Japan)

  14. Fan from Sactown says:

    Kobe you so great as a player ofc but as a person u are doing way way way more than anyone needs to. you are the True champ!
    ps i dun see those 3 clowns from the South beach doing this. they call themselves champs???? they are just a bunch of chimpanzees to me. all they do it is stack with young talents. sigh. the younger generation is hopeless…..

    ppps: kobe keeping doing ur great work! on and off the court u are the best player in the nba history.

  15. Shawn says:

    Thank you Kobe, you the one that makes me and others happy.there is nothing grater than making people happy .

  16. Kahin says:

    Great commons on KOBE, untill @lebron wrote something useless. Anyways, Kobe has always been a great person and has always been given back. Thailand, china, camps.

  17. Kobe is a great person and a player! he does things that others didnt! He just Love his game and a great thing is that the GAME he played LOVE him! not just like Scalabrine HE love BASKETBALL but BSKETBALL doesnt LOVE HIM

  18. Concepcion Ortiz jr says:

    This is what all top proffesional athlete’s should do. I’ve been an LA LAKERS fan before Kobe came and I respect this kind of help from anyone but unfortunately it gives a bigger scope if a athlete or someone from the entertainment world decide to get their hands dirty as Mr. Kobe said. I hope all top athletes and entertainers get truly involve here in NYC ESPECIALLY IN THE BX as well in other truly poor neighborhood.

  19. fdjlakers1 says:

    Great Article.

    Way to go, Kobe!

  20. fdjlakers1 says:

    Great Article. Way to go, Kobe!

  21. A True Fan says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Kobe is a great person and a player. He is doing off the court what he does on it. Hats off to the Black Mamba. Hey homelessness in LA! You are in big trouble, because Kobe is “in it for the long haul”!

  22. Aquilas says:

    this is what lives all about helping one another. He’s been blessed so he can be a blessing toward others.

  23. lebron says:

    This is just a fake! kobe just wants to advertise himself by doing these things…he just want to show hinself to the public. Next time he will be a politician…haha

  24. elias says:

    great work from great player …..way to go ….

  25. Regular fan says:

    Why are any of you impressed? I am not hating on Kobe this is a great thing he is doing, but you guys act like he find a cure for cancer. This is what your suppose to do. CP3 did it and no one really said oh Chris you care about the world. Kobe did a good thing but don’t act like any other nba player isn’t giving back to the community.

  26. maximust says:

    Good job Kobe, this will be a great way to involved and bring the family together… their love will grow stronger!

  27. jay says:

    And then he boned them :) JK. Kobe fan for life! Good to know there are still Billionaires who care about things other than themselves. Good for you man.

    • ezekiel24 says:

      it only shows that kobe loves his game not his money that he can donate those to less fortunate people. =) a true player and a big kind heart. way to go KOBE!! lakers for 2013 championship banner!!!

  28. Laker Nation says:

    Kobe Bryant is my favorite player in the NBA. I think he is the greatest player of all time. He isn’t selfish like most players

    and even through ups and downs he strives to be the best. And as he becomes older he tries to add more on his game to be

    the best. He helps many people and charities and is the best of all time. He is definitely the basketball player you wanna look

    up to and he is also a great role model.

    -Laker Nation

  29. Em says:

    Greak job Kobe and Venessa. I hope you guys now sort out your difference and live happy.

  30. Nichol says:

    Let’s see if Michael can beat that!

  31. Lavern DaCosta says:

    Thanks Kobe for been so considerate for the homeless GOD BLESS YOU AND VANESSA
    RESPECT TO THE MAX ONE LOVE

    FROM HAMILTON ONTARIO CANADA

  32. JUN BUG says:

    I salute you Kobe for this one! That’s the right thing to do to share also those blessings that you have and to help those needy people. The BLACK MAMBA Strike Again! But this time is a Humanitarian move, Will be good if you can imfluence some of your teamates to do the same what you are doing and to make Los Angeles as the City of the West Coast. Congrat’s KOBE!

  33. Uri Shavit says:

    Reblogged this on @Uri Shavit and commented:
    Greatness on and off court ! The Black Mamba Rules !

  34. Christina says:

    This changed my opinion of Kobe……really good thing he’s doing.

  35. Oula says:

    The greatest legacy that God loves is for us (human) to help others win in life. Thank you Kobe & your family for the gesture to the needy people.Bien Trabaho!!!!! May God bless you for the good work.Best of luck in the upcoming season, beat those teams up……Merci.

  36. OLAWALE says:

    i had always love KOBE and i will for ever do. go LAKERS go MR. KB24.

  37. Polo Corona says:

    Good Stuff Kobe!
    Given that those homeless people are Laker Fans Too! All Laker fans are one including the homeless.
    ANd we are all gonna celebrate when we win a few More Champs. C’mon Kobe 8 champs…

  38. Josh says:

    That’s my boi… the black mamba the greatest individual in the NBA.. Lakers 2012-2013 champs..bring it on

  39. robert says:

    a great person off and on the court

  40. G says:

    Believe or not this pushed me off from committing S. Kobe is a warrior always inspires me and gives a huge motivation. I wish Kobe Bryant stayed in the NBA forever.
    Thank you Kobe

    • Obi says:

      Hey G, whatever it is you are dealing with, please dont look the route of suicide. I pray that whatever wounds, physical, emotional or spiritual you are dealing with will be healed. There is so much to life, and I hope that you receive the joy that fills the heart when you allow God into your life. Pls reply this if you can.

    • Belizeboy says:

      Ummm yeah…I call BS.

  41. Patty says:

    Kobi Bryant is a brilliant and generous person. This is how Kobi Bryant has always been. Thank you Kobi for helping the Homeless people.
    Patty

  42. CeeGee says:

    In the end, it won’t matter how many awards you garnered, how many trophies you have, how many cars and homes you owned, what will matter is did you bless someone less fortunate, did you feed those who were hungry, clothe those who were naked, provide shelter to those who had none. These are the only things that will count!

  43. Dennis says:

    This is the one side of Kobe that even his haters cannot debate on. All those basketball greats like Kareem, Oscar, Magic and even Michael you never get to see them doing things like this. But Kobe is a real person and for those who love him like me and my kids, these acts only galvanize the he is worth emulating and be looked upon even after his career is over.

    Way the go Kobe. This is why Manila gives you much love from thousands of miles away.

    • Belizeboy says:

      Two things 1.) Back then the media didn’t care about a player being a philanthropist. 2.) The NBA over the years has made it part of their business to have players more involved in the community.
      Bryant isn’t the only one doing these things you know, but I do applaud him for his contribution.

  44. Dennis says:

    That’s why I like Kobe. He is a true Champion on and off the court. He is always trying to fix things. He’s been criticized regarding his professional life—-he fixed it. He has been criticized regarding his personal life—-he fixed it. people need help—-he’s fixing it.
    Kobe you are a true HERO—-keep up the good work

    By; Dennis Rusland from Suriname

  45. Yohann says:

    I know that there was a good reason why Kobe Bryant is my favorite player, he has a big, caring heart and he shows that not only on the court, but in his community by the conscious choices he makes to help those who are in need. Big Up to you, Kobe.

  46. Bryant says:

    Dude, they didn’t divorce, vanessa didn’t sign the paper. l2p.

  47. Stephen says:

    This was a great story. Its true whether you dislike or like him as a player he definitely is working for the good of others and not just thinking of himself

  48. NBA OFFICIAL says:

    you mean ex wife vanessa

  49. Suge says:

    This is the exact reason why I never left Kobe’s side from the good to bad. Not just an American, a true earthian (if thats a word).