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Hundreds of cheering fans were joined by NBA stars Jordan Bell, Karl Anthony Towns, Lonzo Ball and JaVale McGee on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of California State University Long Beach to watch the First Annual Jordan Bell Celebrity Basketball Game Benefiting Race to Erase MS.
All proceeds from the game were donated to the Center Without Walls program, a coalition of leading multiple sclerosis researchers from the countries top universities, who are collaborating to find a cure and treatments for the disease.
Bell, a current member of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and a Long Beach native, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why finding a cure for MS was an important and personal cause to support.
“My girlfriend was diagnosed with MS in November of last year, and obviously when someone that close to you goes through something like that, it doesn’t just affect them, it affects you too,” Bell said. “Seeing all of the pain and all of the stuff she was going through just made me want to just do my part. Obviously, I can’t come up with a cure, but I can do my part and put on my charity game.”
Prior to the game’s tipoff, the audience was treated to hip-hop music blaring over the speakers as MC DJ Slice also hyped up fans. Meanwhile, Bell tossed water bottles and basketballs to the crowd, which included a group of kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, who were excited to be close to their favorite NBA players.
During the event, Nancy Davis, founder of Race to Erase MS, explained the importance of the hard work Bell did to benefit the organization.
“He is very passionate about doing this every year and he wants to help find the cause and cure for multiple sclerosis and I admire that someone who’s 24 years old, who is starting his great NBA career is so focused on really helping this charity,” Davis told THR. “He’s so giving and he just really wants to find a cure for this disease.”
Before the game started, Bell also took to the mic to address the crowd and he became emotional while discussing his struggle and frustration over not being able to do more to help his girlfriend. At one point, his mother came out to support him and the entire crowd cheered him on as he tried to complete his speech.
“One of the really interesting things about doing an athletic event when you have MS is to remain athletic; doing sports, moving constantly in whatever way you can. Some people think, ‘Well, that sounds so cruel,’ but it’s quite the opposite. The most important thing you can do is to try to move in whatever capacity you can and be as athletic as you can. It really helps keep the muscle memory going when you’re having problems with MS,” he explained.
The charity game proved to be just as fun as it was about winning, with players throwing down alley-oops, hitting 3-point shots and even taking some midgame dance breaks. In between quarters, fans had a chance to win raffle prizes such as an iPad mini.
The game’s final score saw the White team top the Black team after securing 136 points. Lonzo Ball’s manager Darren Moore was named the game’s MVP after he went off for 50 points and 21 rebounds.
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