Three Days in LA: A 2013 ESPY Awards adventure

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I knew it was going to be an interesting trip to Los Angeles when I met actor Colin Farrell at LAX baggage claim upon arrival. Minutes later, I bumped my shoulder into Olympic legend Michael Phelps’ tightly toned torso while wildly retrieving my luggage from the baggage carousel.

Here is the actual transcript of our meeting:

“Whoa. Hi Michael, excuse me. That bag kinda got away from me there for a second.”

“No problem, how are you?”

“I am good, nice to see you.”

Turning my attention, and body, towards the exit, I again saw Farrell, this time attempting to lay low in the shadows as people began to recognize him as “that one guy from ‘SWAT.’”

Suddenly, five punky paparazzo exploded off the elevator and surged towards the helpless Farrell, who was now pacing back and forth, alone, waiting for his luggage, while having a conversation on his cell phone that was going nowhere. He was adamant about needing a ride immediately, but his urgency was neither acknowledged nor reciprocated.

A pair of 50-something (but don’t tell them that) Latinas spotted him, exclaiming with glee to everyone within earshot that Farrell was, in fact, “right by them.”

The ladies bum rushed him and made their jerky husband take several pictures while they posed, Farrell maintaining a state of disinterest throughout the experience. 30 people stood around and watched, mouths agape.

Metaphorically, Farrell was naked in front of his high school assembly, with no publicist or agent in sight to deflect or protect, and the verbal potshots began to pile up.

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Johnathan Gray wins Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award

We were in Hollywood last night to attend the 2012 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award ceremony. Johnathan Gray, a football player from Aledo High School in Texas, and Breanna Stewart, a basketball player from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York, both won the 2012 Athlete of the Year honors from among this impressive group of high school athletes:

GIRLS
Jordan Burgess – Volleyball
Molly Seidel – Cross Country
Breanna Stewart – Basketball
Morgan Andrews – Soccer
Geri Ann Glasco – Softball
Shelbi Vaughan – Track & Field

BOYS
Johnathan Gray – Football
Futsum Zeinasellassie – Cross Country
Jabari Parker – Basketball
Ema Boateng – Soccer
Lance McCullers Jr. – Baseball
Abraham Hall – Track & Field

You’ll be seeing many of these kids in the years to come on SportsCenter. Johnathan Gray is an amazing running back who will be playing for the Texas Longhorns this coming season. In his senior season of high school, he rushed for 3,891 yards on 346 attempts for a rushing average of 11.2 yards per carry. Even more impressively, he rushed for 65 touchdowns!! Needless to say the Texas running game will be getting a nice boost for the next several years.

Breanna Stewart is a 6′ 4″ basketball player who will join the parade of amazing players Geno Auriemma assembles from year to year at UConn. She has also played on the USA Basketball teams for three years, helping each team win a Gold Medal.

All of the kids were very impressive, but Jabari Parker also jumps out as a kid to watch. He was only a junior in high school last season so it’s highly likely Gatorade will be bringing him back again next year. Right now he’s the #1 recruit in the country according to most scouting services and every college basketball powerhouse is drooling at the opportunity to bring in this 6′ 8″ talent. Many are calling him the best young talent since LeBron James.

We had the opportunity to speak with all three players and they all came across as great kids. Each of them emphasized the need to keep working hard to improve their games at the next level. I asked Johnathan Gray about some of the running backs he looked up to, and he mentioned LeSean McCoy, LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. I also asked him about his patience running behind a great offensive line, and Jonathan responded with a great line, saying that running backs should be “slow to it, fast through it” when waiting for the hole to open up.

Check back as we’ll be posting our interviews with Jabari Parker and Breanna Stewart as well.

The award show was also very entertaining, with ESPN’s Stewart Scott hosting the show that included some great presenters, including Robert Griffin III, Alonzo Mourning, Landon Donovan, Lisa Leslie and Brandi Chastian among other notable athletes. Mourning is a former winner of the award, which has prestigious names like Derek Jeter, Lebron James and Peyton Manning among the many winners since 1985. Mourning stressed education in his remarks and in our interview with him afterwards. The beauty of this award is that it takes more than just athletic accomplishments into account. All of these kids excel in the classroom as well.

Along with Zo, we were able to interview Landon Donovan as well and had him size up the state of Team USA as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and we sat in with an interview session with RG3 as well. Check back as we’ll also be posting these interviews.

It was a great evening as we caught a preview of some of the athletes who will likely be dominating the sports headlines in the years to come.

  

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