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Reggie Bush, Terrell Owens and Baron Davis were just a few of the all-star athletes who took to the gridiron at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles on Sunday night to flash their skills and raise money for the 5th annual Celebrity Flag Football Game and All-Star Weekend.
NBA champion Matt Barnes and legendary rapper Snoop Dogg each led their teams in a spirited game that was half flag football and half block party with players jamming out to blaring tunes between plays. The annual event is hosted by Barnes as part of a weekend-long fundraiser for cancer research which included a bowling tournament and a pool party.
Barnes spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why the event was so important to him. “I lost my mom to cancer in 2007 and I started this in 2008,” he said. “I teamed up with Snoop about five years ago and it continues to grow. I’m a football player at heart. Football was my first sport and Snoop is a big-time coach and player, so it only made sense. I’m excited to see the project continue to grow and continue to raise awareness, so it’s been great.”
The game was only one aspect of what felt like a rambunctious end-of-summer party. There were giant bounce houses in the kids’ play zone, and hungry fans and players could grab a bite from food trucks like Wise BBQ and the Grilled Cheese Truck.
Hundreds of fans packed the stands for the game, with Barnes’ team wearing white jerseys and Snoop leading his team in black.
USC football legend Bush, who still looks game-ready even a year after his retirement from the NFL, told THR why he felt it was important for him to participate in the game: “I think everybody here has been affected in some way, shape or form by cancer. Obviously, it’s a nasty disease. It’s taken a lot of people way too soon. I’ve been affected by it, close family members, friends, co-workers, and so I’ve known Matt and Snoop for a long time and they’ve supported me for a long time, so it’s only right that I come to support them.”
The players also took time to interact with the fans during the game, with newly acquired Los Angeles Laker JaVale McGee being a popular selfie request and Snoop running up to the stands to sign autographs for dozens of eager fans.
Singer Mario spoke to what it is about Barnes’ character that he was able to draw so many top-tier athletes and celebrities to participate in his game: “It’s just his energy, his demeanor. The way he carries himself off the court as well as on the court. I think that’s the true character of an athlete, what he does off-court. Because there’s so much influence that an athlete has, and it just goes to show who he really is.”
The game itself was competitive and fun as Team Snoop struck first and rode a tough defense to a 26-8 halftime lead. However, Team Barnes came storming back in the second half by looking to recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Owens, who caught two second-half touchdowns, including one long bomb that tied the score as the game clock ran out.
The friendly yet competitive game went to overtime, whereupon Team Snoop regained the lead and took the win with a touchdown.
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