Posted: Jul 9, 2010 6:43 PM by Ariel Wesler
Updated: Jul 9, 2010 8:47 PM
He's a basketball superstar and an inspiration for millions of kids across america and the world. Today, Kobe Bryant made an appearance in Santa Barbara for a worthy cause.
At six feet six inches tall, Kobe Bryant is more than just a basketball player, he's someone these kids look up to.
"It's kinda like a dream come true to meet him," said 10- year-old Isaiah Veal.
Reporter: How big a Kobe Bryant fan are you?
"On a scale of one to 10, probably a 10," said 13-year-old Anthony Scafidi.
Kobe was the guest of honor at a luncheon to raise money for all the boys and girls clubs throughout Santa Barbara county.
"Last year, we had Ziggy Marley here. We've had Robin Thicke here and that was fabulous. This is big!" said Carolyn Brown, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club.
"We've had some of our donors that bought tables just for the kids to sit at," Brown said.
Eight-year-old Tommy Brittingham had the best seat in the house and drew some inspiration from the basketball star.
"He told me to never give up," Brittingham said.
Like Kobe, Tommy used to live overseas.
"I was a little bullied and then I made myself proud," he said.
Kobe moved his basketball academy to UCSB this year and says he learns as much from the kids as they do from him.
Being around kids who genuinely love the game and have such an innocence about them. I think that's refreshing for me to see," Bryant said.
Passing along life lessons, using basketball to bring down barriers.
"There's a two dribble maximum, when you cross halfcourt. . .so, it teaches them unselfishness, it teaches them communication even if you don't speak the language," Bryant said.
Kobe undoubtedly left his mark on these kids at an event aimed at making sure more of them have a chance to reach their goals.
"It's always finding that one thing you love doing the most," Bryant said.
Tickets for the fundraiser were $200 a plate. With a couple hundred people in attendance, organizers expect to raise at least $40,000.
The event also raised money for the Kobe Bryant Family Foundation. This year, two boys from the Santa Barbara-based Boys and Girls Club received scholarships to attend Kobe Bryant's Basketball Academy at UCSB.
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