Pau Gasol poses por a picture with a kid on Thursday, December 29 in the Lakers practice facility. (Dennys Hernandez/Living Out Loud LA)
The Los Angeles Lakers celebrated the holidays with 100 kids on Thursday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. Students from the local Los Angeles community were invited for a day of fun as they ice skated with the Laker Girls, and even met some of their favorite Laker players.
“It’s always fun to give back and to just enjoy the smiles on their faces,” said Lakers small forward Nick Young.
Students were hand-picked and rewarded for their hard work during the school year. Eighty students from the Center for Advanced Learning had perfect attendance, while 20 students from the Los Angeles Urban League received the highest grades.
“They’ve worked extremely hard and I think that’s an amazing thing to be able to reward these young people,” said Lakers point guard Steve Nash.
To kick off the day’s festivities, all of the students took the ice and were given a free Lakers scarf. Even if they weren’t expert ice skaters, the Laker girls were there to help. After skating on the ice, the students were given lunch and the opportunity to meet some of their favorite Lakers.
Young and Nash were joined by teammates Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, Steve Blake and the rest of the Laker squad. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant wasn’t able to attend due to his recent knee injury.
All of the kids were given the opportunity to hang out and play video games with their favorite stars. While some played video games, others practiced their free throws on a mini-basketball court. Pau Gasol played Santa Claus as all the kids were able to take pictures with him and take it home as a souvenir.
“For us it’s always fun to give back and make them happy,” said Gasol. “It’s truly rewarding for us to be able to interact with them and get them to smile and wish them happy holidays.”