NBA champion Matt Barnes joined forces with hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg to host the 5th annual Athletes vs. Cancer celebrity football game. A diverse set of public figures and pro athletes came to support their cause and compete in an exciting fundraiser game at Fairfax high school.
“A lot of people have been affected by cancer, so a lot of my friends come through [and] some people I don’t even know,” Barnes said. “We appreciate everybody because it takes everybody to hopefully help find a cure.”
Team Snoop Dogg went head-to-head against Team Matt Barnes with Team Snoop favored to win; Team Barnes only defeated Team Snoop once in the game’s short history.
“Matt Barnes came to me many years ago when he lost his mom,” Snoop said. “I was just a participant, as a player, but then I wanted to join in with him to help him because I lost people in my family too [from] the same disease.”
Losing a loved one to cancer has been a motivator for other celebrities and athletes to support the event, including former Olympian and former USC Trojan Carol Rodriguez.
“One of my teammates just passed away from cancer,” Rodriguez said. “She was a year older than me, we met back in high school running track so this is close to my heart.”
The celebrity football game was the conclusion to an All-Star weekend of events that brought awareness to cancer research. Thursday was the Smoke 4 a Cure Cannabis Summit where botanists and scientists discuss the various medical benefits of the plant. Barnes also hosted Bowl 4 a Cure event at Lucky Strike at LA Live.
Team Snoop Dogg included rappers Nelly and Problem, Olympic sprinter Carmelita Jeter, former NBA star Baron Davis and comedian Redd Grant.
Despite having former NFL gladiators Terrell Owens and Reggie Bush and new Lakers center Javale McGee on the squad, Team Matt was slow to score early in the game. Snoop Dogg ran in the first touchdown of the game and committed a pass deflection in the first quarter.
Team Matt scored their first touchdown after being down 14-0, but Team Snoop kept its upward momentum. At the half, Snoop’s squad was ahead 26-8.
Team Matt became more competitive in the second half with a strong performance by T.O. in the fourth. The newly inducted Hall of Famer willed the team on, securing a long-distance pass in the endzone to tie the game at 26, forcing the game into overtime. Yet Team Snoop would survive Team Barnes fourth-quarter push with a 32-26 victory.
Bishop Don Juan was one of the many celebrity guests that attended the event. The Bishop is a survivor of prostate cancer, said the organization is supporting a “very worthy cause.”
“If you got it already and you catch it at an early stage, it can be treated and you can be cured,” Juan said about prostate cancer. “Go get checked and if you have it, do what your doctors say and take your treatment.”
While celebrities like R&B crooners Tank and Mario competed in the football game, others watched from the sidelines. The likes of Draymond Green, Nick Young and actor Omar Gooding were some of the supporting spectators.
“I came to the first one ever that they did. I scored the first touchdown,” Gooding said. “The more that we can come out and show our faces, give money, contribute the cause and spread awareness, the more we can we can do to better the victims of this disease.”