IRVINE — Considering the fact the payments went toward a charity for children, everyone appeared to have received their money's worth in the inaugural Harmony and Hoops Charity Basketball Game at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center on Saturday.
An 88-87 win in double-overtime by the Hoops team, which trailed by 19 points with 15:41 left, was icing on the cake. The only non-celebrity player, Kris Gallop of Cal State Monterey Bay, hit one free throw to break a tie with four seconds left to win it. Gallop scored a team-high 25 points.
A reported 1,000 people paid for tickets for either $15, $25 or $50, although it appeared like there were fewer than 500 people who actually attended the game, including several children.
But $50,000-$100,000 was raised for several charities and organizations:
"It was the first basketball game I've ever gone to," Tyler said. "It was even better than I expected. We had more celebrities who were able to show up. They really came out for the kids. I have a 9-year-old son who has autism and I have epilepsy, which is why I started the foundation. We were blessed with a lot of stars. We wanted to promote anti-bullying efforts and kids who are a little different than other kids. It was part of the
"I think as far as autism goes, people are becoming more knowledgeable about it," Wilkes said shortly before game time. "I went to come out and see some good entertainment, a nice family event."
At halftime, there was a hip-hop remix of DJ Jazzy Jeff and (
Cheerleaders from Culver City Middle School gave an impressive halftime routine.
Tyler's foundation helped make the game very kid-friendly, especially those with autism who attended. There was a master of ceremonies who announced the starting lineups, halftime and postgame activities, but did not really announce who scored which baskets. There were no bands or loud rock or hip-hop music that played as often as most NBA or college basketball games. There was a separate room with a television showing the game for anyone who felt overstimulated by the action on and off the court.
"I didn't want high-sensory things a normal game might have," Tyler said. "We had the lights low; we didn't have that much music playing. We wanted to hold a game the kids can go to. We didn't want to overstimulate the kids. We gave a lot of tickets away to schools with children who have disabilities. A lot of stars came out, we didn't pay them any personal appearance fees."
In an earlier press release, the game claimed to have game appearances by
"We had a scheduling conflict with Dennis, but he's been very supportive," Tyler said.
As for the game, Bay Area native Gallop came thanks to an invitation by one of his celebrity friends. Harmony guard Arlen Escarpeta, an actor who starred in
"I wasn't nervous," Gallop said of the charity game. "It was fun, it was definitely worth it."
Harmony celebrity coach Shannon "The Cannon" Briggs, the last American to hold the WBO heavyweight boxing title, loved all the fun. He was among several celebrities who provided autographs for children.
"It did look like it was scripted, but it was not," Briggs said of the huge comeback. "It was a great show for the fans, it was fun. It's a phenomenal thing to give back to kids. Tina is a great spirit, she's a very strong woman. I'm looking forward to seeing it grow."
One of several children who received autographs was Anthony Veloz, a 13-year-old from Anaheim who has autism. Veloz watched the game with his parents and other relatives.
"It's my first time meeting celebrities," Veloz said. "It's interesting to watch."
"It was good to come out here and see smiles on all the kids' faces," Sumpter said. "I had to fight for a couple rebounds and threw the ball in. I was feeling it from three."
Sam Williams, president of the NBA Retired Players Assn., thanked the charities at halftime.
"We support kids with autism," Williams said. "I've been the president for four months. We went through reorganization. Tina contacted us and we offered our support."
Assad Ali, son of
"This is for a great cause," Ali said. "I wanted to be there for the kids. This is great for us, but it's not about us, it's for the kids."