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Kobe Bryant hosts video game tournament

October 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kobe hosted the After-School All-Stars Video Game Championship for inner-city kids Tuesday.Imagine you're a kid, invited to play video games with members of the Lakers, in a tournament hosted by Kobe Bryant. A few lucky kids got to do just that Tuesday.

In the rough and tumble world of professional basketball, the Lakers make winning look like kids' play. But when the basketball is virtual and kids actually play, the NBA champs can quickly find themselves outgunned and overmatched.

"Kids are now born with a video game piece of DNA that they just know how to work the controllers and use all the buttons and get it just right," said Laker Derek Fisher.

This is the After-School All-Stars Video Game Championship. Lakers star Kobe Bryant acted as master of ceremonies while teammates Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic, as well as Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman of the Clippers, teamed up with a middle school student taking part in this inner-city after-school program.

"Meeting them in real life instead of watching them on TV or video games, it's awesome," said student Miguel Morales.

"We want to be able to educate, enlighten, and inspire our kids. And it's events like this that keep our kids inspired," said Ana Campos, spokesperson for the video game tournament.

"It's a big competition. Every time, you know, we get to playing them it's a -- the competitive juices come out inevitably," said Laker Kobe Bryant.

That's because the goal for these kids is obviously to win this video game championship but talk to the organizers here and they'll tell you that this isn't about throwing elbows on the virtual court, it's about rubbing elbows with real-life success stories.

"Well, a lot of times we're hunkered down and we're just working hard, you know, even sometimes we lose sight of how impactful our presence can be," said Fisher. "And for young people, especially during these times, it's very important."

But so is winning, and Team Sasha, starring student Christopher Castillo, brought home the trophy and a nice check for $25,000 to the After-School All-Stars program.

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