A football game at Fairfax High School Sunday evening went into overtime, but the professional athletes, actors and artists who participated knew the event was about more than a mere win or loss.
The flag football game was the last of three events for the fifth annual Athletes vs. Cancer All-Star Weekend, hosted by former NBA player Matt Barnes and Snoop Dogg.
Barnes created the nonprofit Athletes vs. Cancer (AVC) in memory of his mother, who died just 26 days after being diagnosed with stage four cancer, according to the organization’s website.
“This nonprofit is a community of influencers — musicians, athletes, actors — who come together to bring awareness to cancer but also support families who are harmed by cancer,” said Holly Baird, communications director for AVC. “They provide scholarships, care packages and all-around support for families.”
Barnes, who retired after winning the 2017 NBA title with the Golden State Warriors, touched on the topic of cannabis and the reason part of the weekend was devoted to the popular plant, along with product displays.
“Cannabis is something I’ve been involved with for a long time,” Barnes said. “Now that I’m done [with professional basketball] I’m an activist and a big supporter and a believer in the beneficial sides of it.”
He added with a quick grin: “Teaming up with Snoop, it only makes sense.”
Barnes, who played with the Lakers from 2010 to 2012, said he also is involved with the first athlete-funded, UCLA cannabis research program. Barnes said they are looking into the benefits that can be derived from the plant, from creams to oils to pills.
Nearby, a man using a cellphone, Marquel Russell, said he attended the game to support one of his clients. That client happened to be Snoop Dogg, who would make his entrance later, with a hive of photographers, a camera crew and others surrounding him as he walked to the field.
Russell said that while he couldn’t speak for Snoop, he did talk about the entertainer’s personality and why he felt Snoop would participate in an event like this.
“Snoop has a big heart, he’s always had a big heart for the community, for his people, for people that have gone through some type of struggle in their life,” Russell said. “Matt [Barnes] started this organization about five years ago and Snoop was just a great friend and a great partner to be with, and it’s been building and growing ever since.”
For Deidre Rucks and LaChondra Washington, their reasons for attending were personal. Their cousin, three-time Olympic medalist Carmelita Jeter, was playing on Team Barnes. And each woman’s life has been touched by cancer.
“We have a triple investment,” Rucks said. “To have the family, the athlete and the cancer to all be in one event — we had to come and support it.”
Rucks said her mother was diagnosed with cancer about six years ago; and Washington’s mother, who is also Jeter’s aunt, died of breast cancer about five years ago.
R&B singer-actor Tank, comedian-producer Red Grant and JaVale McGee, who recently signed with the Lakers after two consecutive titles with the Golden State Warriors, were among the players.
As if it were scripted, with no time on the clock in the fourth quarter, one of this year’s Pro Football Hall of Famers, Terrell Owens (T.O.), who was playing for Team Barnes, caught a Hail Mary pass to tie the game at 26.