Athletes like DeShaun Foster showed their support for Jim Mora at the golf classic. (Dave Fausto/Living Out Loud LA)
Celebrities and athletes came together over the weekend for an event to benefit children in the L.A. area. UCLA football head coach Jim Mora, Jr. hosted the eighth annual Jim Mora Celebrity Golf Classic Monday at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
The sold-out event was in support of Mora’s Count On Me Family Foundation, which aims to help children in three target areas: those from low socio-economic backgrounds, mentally and/or physically challenged children and youth at risk.
“[The event] is something I’m really proud of and something I’m glad has continued to grow over the years,” said Mora. “With the help of my wife [Shannon Mora], I’m proud to be doing an event like this every year, and I’m proud of what we’re able to achieve because of its success.”
The event kicked off Sunday evening with a spirited gala at the W Hotel in Westwood that featured many UCLA football and basketball greats, and continued Monday morning a few miles away at the Riviera Country Club. The gala took place in the pool area and the surrounding patio of the luxurious hotel, where celebs mingled and walked the red carpet before capping off the evening by raffling off golf clubs and several other golf-related prizes.
The next morning in the Palisades, the sun peeked through just enough to create ideal conditions for a friendly golf tourney. The lush green lawn with multi-million dollar homes overlooking in the background provided an aesthetic pleasure, while the multiple barbecue and burger cookouts stimulated the other senses.
Among the celebrities and athletes in attendance were Jennifer Aniston, Jerome Bettis, Larry Fitzgerald, Troy Aikman, Tim Tebow and Anthony Anderson. Former Bruin linebacker Donnie Edwards was on hand and said he was proud to be supporting such a helpful cause. He proudly talked about his own charity organization as well, called the Greatest Generations Foundation.
“[The Greatest Generation Foundation has] programs that provide for combat veterans [revisiting] their battle fields,” Edwards said. “At the end of this month, we’re taking 70 veterans back to Normandy for two weeks to commemorate and also honor their fallen brothers.”
Drafted out of UCLA in 1996 as an undersized linebacker by the Kansas City Chiefs, Edwards Played 14 years in the NFL and was an All-Pro in 2002 and 2004 with his hometown San Diego Chargers.
Larry Fitzgerald – another All-Pro NFLer who’s no stranger to charitable causes – talked about his relationship with Coach Mora that dates back to when Mora was in the NFL.
“Coach Mora’s been a great man to me … he’s got a great heart, and I’m very happy for the success he’s had at UCLA,” he said. “He’s doing a great job in his community, and I’m just glad he invited me out to be a part of his charity.”
Fitzgerald talked a little football and said the goal for his Arizona Cardinals this season is undoubtedly to make the playoffs. He also shared his way of dealing with loudmouth defenders when asked about Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
“I’m not a big trash talker; it’s just not my thing,” he said with a confident smirk. “I don’t say anything back. People get tired of talking when they’re talking to themselves.”
Fitzgerald enthusiastically reflected on the recent draft class for his team and said he couldn’t wait to get the pads back on to start the season.
“I think everybody that we drafted has got great ability,” he said. “I was able to work with [the Cardinals’ draft picks] all last week on the field. To see how gifted and athletic these guys are is really special; and they can all help our team.”
Actor, comedian and “Saturday Night Live” alum Kevin Nealon praised Mora and his organization for putting on this event on a yearly basis.
“It’s an amazing event that he’s put together, and he’s so consistent,” said Nealon. “Year after year, it’s just a great turnout. I mean, this guy’s beloved, and it’s a great cause, too.”
Nealon joked with the media in his usual fast-talking, deadpan style about bar fights and hypothetical movies on the red carpet before hitting the course and also mentioned his upcoming film, Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, which hits theaters this Friday.
With a star-studded guestlist of hoops and gridiron athletes, Eric Karros was on hand to represent the Dodgers and voiced his opinion on the underwhelming start to their season.
“Well, we’re a quarter of the way through [the baseball season],” said the former NL Rookie of the Year first baseman. “Not bad, all things considered. They’ve had some health issues with [Clayton] Kershaw out, [Hyun-jin] Ryu’s been out. I still like them in the National League. Have they played up to their capabilities? No. I think they’re going to be better … I’m still looking forward to a championship season.”
Karros, the Dodgers’ all-time career home run leader since the team moved to Los Angeles, offered his thoughts and expressed his admiration for a current Dodgers slugger who could one day join him atop that list, Yasiel Puig.
“I’d like to have [Puig’s] future, that’s all I gotta say!” said Karros. “As a young player, all he’s known is success at the big league level, which doesn’t happen too often. He appears to be one of those once-in-a-generation type of athletes in terms of physical ability.”
Karros also shared his opinion on why he thinks Puig is such an enigmatic and polarizing figure across baseball.
“Well, I think he’s disliked if you’re not on his team, because he’s so competitive,” he said. “He’s – I don’t want to say he’s flamboyant – but he’s very self-confident. And again, if he’s on my team, I love him. If I’m playing against him, he’s frustrating because of how good he is. He’s fun to watch, let’s just put it that way.”
For more information on Jim Mora’s Count On Me Family Foundation, visit countonmefoundation.org.