Last summer, Kobe Bryant decided to take on a cause, and committed to combating homelessness among youths in L.A.
A year later, and Bryant is still committed to achieving something greater than himself.
According to Melissa Rohlin of the LA Times, Bryant paid a visit to skid row–the infamous street in Los Angeles occupied by homeless people.
“You get to hear the stories, you get to see firsthand what’s going on.”
One story in particular that touched Bryant was that of a 58-year-old man, who had at one point withered away to 135 pounds before seeking help at a local L.A. Mission.
“He’s a 60-year-old man, extremely articulate, had a great life, made a poor choice and ended up on the streets. Now he feels like he’s there for good and his weight is back up to 235. He’s 58, actually, but he’s in better shape than I am.”
Bryant partnered with a resource center in Hollywood for homeless youths called My Friend’s Place, which provides the underprivileged between the ages of 12-25 with shelter, food, clothing, showers, transportation and other services.
According to Ben Bolch, also of the LA Times, My Friend’s Place has helped 1,741 homeless individuals since Bryant’s partnership last year.
The foundation Bryant facilitates these types of ventures and awareness campaigns out of is actually that of he and his wife, Vanessa, and is appropriately named the “Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.”
His reasoning for choosing homelessness? According to Bolch, this was the Black Mamba’s response:
“You have to do something that carries a little bit more weight to it, a little more significance, a little more purpose to it. 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.
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.’ 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.
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, 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.”
Bryant summed up his purpose with a famous quote from a fictional superhero:
“I don’t want to be too cheesy and quote ‘Spider-Man’ but with great power comes great responsibility.”
To many of these kids, Bryant is a real life superhero.