Bryant, Lakers Donate to Laid-Off Staff

They're turning over playoff earnings to workers let go before the lockout.

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Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Politics 365's Malik Shareef reports that Kobe Bryant and NBPA President Derek Fischer have decided to donate money tagged for the Lakers to two former employees who were laid off before the lockout:

Each team receives a playoff pool of money, based on how far they advance in the playoffs.  For their second-round playoff exit in 2011, the Lakers received $604,000, which is normally divided among the players and some team employees.  In a generous gesture, Laker captains Kobe Bryant and NBPA President Derek Fisher voted to give around $65,000 of the pool to two former employees, Chris Bodaken and Patrick O’Keefe, let go before the lockout.

"He always looks out for people who are lower on the totem pole," O'Keefe said. Bodaken adds: "At the end of the day, he told us he was going to take care of us and he did, and that's not how most people in the world operate. He not only talks the talk. He walks it.”

Both men hope to be rehired by the team once the lockout ends, but the financial contributions by Bryant and Fisher will certainly help the staff during this period of league uncertainty ...

We'll add this to the "Good news from professional sports lockouts" file. During the NFL's lockout, several players -- including Larry Fitzgerald, Santonio Holmes and Adrian Peterson -- went on a mission to Africa to deliver hearing aids to people in Uganda and Rwanda. And Chicago Bears' J.T. Thomas escorted a girl with a disability to her eighth-grade dance. During the NBA's downtime, we've already heard of former UCLA players taking the opportunity to return to college.

There's always plenty of coverage when professional athletes behave badly, so we're pleased to see Bryant and others making impressive choices that show they can also be winners off the court.

Read more at Politics 365.

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