BDiddy & The Family
Baron Davis continues to give back to the L.A. community.
by Nima Zarrabi / @NZbeFree
It’s hard to believe over a dozen NBA stars would choose to spend one of the hottest summer days in L.A. on a baseball diamond near UCLA. There are better options for a sweltering Saturday—a Westside beach, pool or any dwelling with AC.
But that’s just what happened this past Saturday when Baron Davis hosted his third annual All-Star Kickball game for his foundation, Rising Stars of America. Some of Davis’ closest friends—athletes, celebrities, models—grabbed their sun block, shades and in some cases a dry towel, for a wonderful day benefiting the youth of L.A.
Davis founded Rising Stars in 2004 as a way to give back to the L.A. community that shaped him and provided support during his youth. He has always looked out for the kids, using his notoriety and connections in the area to offer programs and positive role models to inspire others. His foundation has supported AAU teams, sponsored basketball camps and healthy eating and living programs within the elementary school system.
He has also served as a mentor and role model to many of the young basketball talents in the area and it was cool to see a number of them offer support to Baron’s foundation now that they have made it to the NBA—cats like Trevor Ariza, Craig Smith, Tayshaun Prince, Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Austin Daye are BDiddy’s L.A. familia.
Even NBA players who spend a chunk of their offseason in Cali decided to come out to support. Corey Maggette, DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes, Chase Budinger, Kenneth Faried, Kelenna Azubuike and JR Smith participated as well. “Baron does a lot for this community and definitely a lot for UCLA and we here,” Maggette said. “The guys are here to help him out and it’s a great thing.”
The positive energy at Jackie Robinson Stadium (UCLA’s baseball field) was fantastic. The athletes and celebrities were amped up for kickball as were the numerous kids and families in attendance. Most of the NBA guys spent a few minutes with the media on the red carpet despite the crazy heat.
Budinger seemed genuinely stoked about being traded from Houston to Minnesota during the offseason, citing his excitement about linking up with coach Rick Adelman once again. “I’ve been working on a lot of ball handling and pick and rolls this summer,” he said. “Adelman told me he wants me to be involved with more pick and rolls.”
Chase has spent most of the summer in his native San Diego, working out a little bit with local guys like Richard Jefferson and Jared Dudley and is in the final stages of finding a place to live in Minnesota, expecting to make the move in 2-3 weeks.
Young had his usual fashion flow on full display and said he can’t wait for all the open jumpers he will see in Philly this year thanks to likely double-teams of Andrew Bynum.
Faried—with his standard backpack strapped tight to his back—said he wasn’t pleased with his rookie season because he didn’t accomplish all of his goals. “I wanted to win Rookie of the Year, that was just the highest goal,” he explained. “A lot of people did give me praise but I had to stay focused on what the team wanted me to do and what we were trying to accomplish and that’s what I did.”
The Manimal was bummed to see his friend Al Harrington traded but was high on the addition of Andre Iguodala, who he believes will fit right in with Denver and their running style. “Al was really there for us and helped me as a big guy and as a rookie,” he said. “He showed me things that most of the other guys weren’t able to.”
Baron spoke briefly to the media and said he has spent the majority of his summer rehabbing his right knee. He tore his ACL and MCL late last season and is working hard to come back. He was proud to see many of his NBA peers in attendance. “It’s big,” he said. “That’s what I’m all about. Each one of these people will tell you that because I show up and do things for them as well. We’re a brotherhood. We’re a family. It’s just and honor to be a part of it.”
The kickball game definitely had a party feel. Former NBA player Cedric Ceballos was the event MC and there was music and dancing throughout. Several dance circles came together spontaneously and a dance battle that featured Faried, Young, Barnes and his sons was the highlight of the day.
Smith—who flew in from New York the night before—stood out on defense, hustling for every ball in the middle of the infield while sweating hard in his rolled up jeans. But Young stole the show, going 3-for-4 at the plate, including an inside the park home run. At the conclusion of the game, Baron grabbed the mic and named him the game’s MVP. “Give it up for Swaggy P,” Baron exclaimed as he presented him with the Golden Boot trophy.
Young was proud of his efforts and his hardware, showcasing the trophy as he graciously took pictures with fans afterwards. Even after a full afternoon of snacks, sunshine and kickball, there was still plenty of time left for a late beach run. It was a perfect LA kind of day.