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The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend kicked into full gear with Friday's annual Celebrity Game (Feb. 14). Presented by Ruffles and held at Chicago's Wintrust Arena, the home team lead by Pardon the Interruption host Michael Wilbon went head-to-head against the away team coached by Stephen A. Smith of ESPN's First Take.
Artists and comedians including captain Chance the Rapper, Jidenna, Lil Rel Howry, Hannibal Buress and more dueled it out on the court with their respective teammates. To add a more entertaining element to the night, players participated in short, break-away competitions. To switch up the pace of the game, basketball legends Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles participated in a shoot out which allowed the winner to add a fellow basketball legend to their team.
After winning, Richardson and Team Wilbon were given first possession for the third quarter with former player, Horace Grant joining the squad in his Chicago Bulls jersey. To add fuel to the fire, Stephen A. sounded called on three-time NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson to join his team on the court.
Team Wilbon took home the win after defeating Team Stephen A 62-47, former ball boy Common was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award in his hometown after scoring 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals. After being handed the trophy, Common chatted shortly about the game, coming MVP, and his favorite experience/moment with the late, great Kobe Bryant.
"Honestly, one of my favorite moments...it wasn't basketball. It was seeing him at the Oscars and talking to him and Vanessa and seeing how happy he was," the hip-hop legend recalls. "I saw a side of Kobe that was really not only humble but also just appreciative of what that journey was. To do a film, to produce a film, create a film and it be nominated for an Oscar and then he went on to win it.
"This was right before he won it. We were talking about it and I could tell his excitement was there. It was a beautiful thing. I'll always cherish that moment."
Common went on to share another moment when he caught up with Bryant after an All-Star Game, where he met a young Gianna and the Bryant family. Watch our on-court interview with Grammy award-winning artist and actor above.
After years of virtual silence since leaving the NFL after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, Colin Kaepernick has announced that he will release his memoir by the end of 2020.
According to a press release and further confirmed on Kaepernick's Twitter page, the former Super Bowl quarterback will release the book through his own publishing company, Kaepernick Publishing. Audible, the industry-leading producer of audiobooks, will exclusively present the audio version. Print and e-book versions will be published by Kaepernick Publishing in partnership with Melcher Media, with distribution by Ingram Brand's Two Rivers Distribution.
"My protest was the culmination of years of thought and experiences, of learning and unlearning. I want to tell the story of my evolution, and the events that led me to protest systemic oppression, in hopes that it will inspire others to rise in action," Kaepernick said in a statement. "I am excited that through this groundbreaking partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and Audible, we can elevate Black and Brown voices who can empower future generations." The release also stated that Kaepernick founded his own company to emphasize the importance of black ownership, and "to give power to Black and Brown voices globally" in the fields of literature and spoken word.
Kaepernick played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, and made the Super Bowl in his first full season as a starter. But he would become much more known four years later, when he began to sit out the national anthem during his team's preseason games as a protest against police brutality against people of color. The move sparked nationwide controversy, with detractors – including President Donald Trump – declaring his protest as unpatriotic. But for his supporters, he has become one of the most revered cultural figures in America for his willingness to fight the system.
At the end of the 2016-2017 season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He has been unable to land with another team since then, despite continuing to train five days a week and many sports pundits believing that he's still a better quarterback than many who are playing in the league. He also sued the NFL for collusion to keep him out of the league, before settling for an undisclosed amount. During his time out of the NFL, Kaepernick has put more time into activism, including his Know Your Rights Camp for children and over $1 million in donations to social justice and education causes. But he has rarely spoken publicly about his protests or his time away from the NFL.
“I’ve had a lot of questions surrounding what got me to the point of protesting," he said in an interview with USA Today. "Why did I do it? Why did I do it at that moment? Why wasn’t it earlier in my career? A lot of questions surrounding what led me to that point. Which led me to wanting to share that story and give insight. So I think there’s a lot of interest around it, but time will tell when the book comes out.”
Simone Johnson plans to continue a legacy that spans generations. Earlier this week, the 18-year-old athlete announced her signing to the WWE, a decision her father Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson made in 1996 with the then WWF.
"Congrats to my #1 born, Simone Johnson on officially signing her wrestling contract with @wwe @wwenxt and on her way to becoming the first ever 4th generation WWE athlete," he wrote on Instagram. "Carry our family name proudly, but your road will always be yours to create, earn & own. So proud. Live your dream. Let's work."
The blockbuster actor's father and grandfather were renowned wrestlers. In 2004, Johnson retired and embarked on a path in Hollywood that's spurned a number of franchises and animated films. He later returned to the ring in 2007 before retiring for good in 2019.
“It means the world to me,” Simone Johnson said in a statement. “To know that my family has such a personal connection to wrestling is really special to me and I feel grateful to have the opportunity, not only to wrestle, but to carry on that legacy.” Johnson will head to Orlando, Fla., to begin training at the WWE Performance Center.
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Dreams ain’t just for dreamers. Congrats to my #1 born, Simone Johnson on officially signing her wrestling contract with @wwe @wwenxt and on her way to becoming the first ever 4th generation WWE athlete. Carry our family name proudly, but your road will always be yours to create, earn & own. So proud. Live your dream. Let’s work. #humblehungry #hardestworkersintheroom #4thgeneration
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To the little girl who fell in love with wrestling & said “this will be my life one day”, this is for you. I’m humbled, grateful & ready to work. Let’s do this. @wwe @wwenxt