Bryant Makes Impression on Area Youths.
The Signal | Wednesday, February 28, 2001.
Kobe Bryant is doing more than scoring points for the Los Angeles Lakers — he's scoring points with Santa Clarita youths.
Bryant, a forward who is averaging 29.6 points a game for the Lakers, recently made a surprise visit to the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club. The NBA All-Star was in the area last month to film a commercial for McDonald's and then shot a video for the upcoming McDonald's All-American Game in the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club's gym.
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After his work, Bryant was more than happy to talk to the youths at the club and sign autographs.
"I honestly thought he was awesome," said Ryan Stallings, 16, of Santa Clarita. "He was so nice. When he came in, he was bombarded, but he didn't push anyone away. He was really cool."
Stallings was inspired by what Bryant had to say.
"(Kobe) talked about giving all you have in life and live every day like it's your last," he said. "That [made] me want to do that."
Pete Villarreal was also moved by Bryant's appearance.
"It was amazing," said Villarreal, 17, of Santa Clarita. "I never met anyone famous before. (Kobe) said no matter what you do, put 100 percent in everything."
But this isn't the first time that Bryant has come to Santa Clarita. Bryant came to the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club's VIP Night at Magic Mountain two years ago.
"Each time he comes, he's down to earth," said Jim Ventress, executive director of the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Club. "Kobe really enjoys the atmosphere (around youths), and the kids are really respectful around him."
During last month's visit, the six-foot-seven Bryant also let youths take pictures of him.
"He's very tall," Villarreal said. "He's much taller than I expected."
Bryant's visit also changed the way youths look at athletes.
"This helps realize that athletes are just as vulnerable as the rest of us," said Stallings.