The Inner-City Games has its first winner before the event begins--the games themselves.
Nike presented Inner-City Games founder Danny Hernandez with a check for $100,000 on Wednesday to help support the sports festival created to give inner-city children an alternative to drugs and gangs.
More than 120,000 children and 2,000 volunteers are expected to compete in 14 sports during the fourth annual games, which will be held at USC and other sites around the Southland starting Saturday and ending Aug. 1.
The games are hosted by the Hollenbeck Youth Center in East Los Angeles. Hernandez, executive director of the center, founded the games in 1991.
The games emphasize the importance of education, fitness and fair competition.
The sports apparel company's sponsorship of the games is part of Participate in the Lives of America's Youth, or PLAY, Nike's $10-million national youth sports initiative designed to give them more opportunities to play. In the three months since Nike launched the PLAY campaign with ads featuring Michael Jordan and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, more than 200,000 people have called a toll-free number--(800) 929-PLAY--to find out how they can help youths get involved in recreation and fitness programs, a Nike spokeswoman said.
The 10-day Inner-City Games include baseball, basketball, water skiing, boxing, tennis, volleyball, flag football, karate and track. The games end with a celebrity golf tournament. The games will kick off with a torch-lighting during opening ceremonies at USC. Celebrities, flag-bearers, athletes and dancers will perform at the fountain outside Bovard Hall at 2 p.m.
Although the games don't officially start until Saturday, activities have been plentiful.
On July 6, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted a baseball clinic at Dymally Park in Lynwood. Among the Dodgers present was hitting coach Manny Mota.
"We need to spend more time with the kids," Mota said. "The whole point of this is to get the message across for them to stay in school and to help them become good citizens. This is a great feeling for me to be with the kids."