In a touching moment as his hour-plus set came to a close at Wednesday’s Blue Diamond Gala at Dodger Stadium, benefiting the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, singer Bruno Mars shared a story about his early days in Los Angeles when he was an aspiring songwriter dreaming of success.
“Over a decade ago, I moved out to L.A. hoping that one day I was going to make it,” said the 11-time Grammy-winning, 27-time Grammy-nominated superstar. “I wrote a bunch of ... songs, and then I finally wrote one that I really loved. And I remember driving in L.A. in a 1987 Honda with an AM/FM radio” hearing the song “that changed my life.”
Mars then sang the B.o.B track for which he’s featured, “Nothin’ on You,” as well as his early hits, saying, “If you know the words to any songs I’m about to sing, I want to hear you all sing.” Guests on the baseball diamond crowding the stage appeared happy to do so. They also joined in for “It Will Rain” and “When I Was Your Man.”
Honoring tennis legends Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, the fifth-anniversary gala, presented by the Dodgers ownership group, raised a record-setting $3 million. Proceeds are earmarked for the Dodgers Foundation’s Dreamfields and RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) programs, which promote baseball and softball development among children and teens.
Prior to Mars’ set and in a party tent lined with buffet tables, children and adults gathered around the Dodgers players, who cheerfully autographed baseballs for fans before settling into an area designated for the team.
Haley Joel Osment of “Future Man,” sister Emily Osment of “Hannah Montana,” Martin Starr of “Silicon Valley” and Katherine McNamara of “Shadowhunters” chatted beneath chandeliers in the space. “I’m a lifelong Dodger fan,” Haley Joel Osment said. “So many players put so much effort into the community, going above and beyond, that I’m proud to be a fan.”
Seated beside boyfriend Taylor Beau, Anne Winters of “13 Reasons Why” said, “This is my favorite event. I’ve come here twice. I love the atmosphere. I love being in the stadium, and honestly, the performances are amazing.”
Other familiar faces at the gala were Tiffany Haddish, Prince Michael Jackson, Holly Robinson Peete, Rodney Peete and RJ Peete, Courtney and Mario Lopez, Loretta Devine, Loni Love, Tina Knowles Lawson and Richard Lawson, and Mackenzie Hancsicsak.
Players present included Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Dylan Floro, David Freese, Kyle Garlick, Enrique Hernandez, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Russell Martin, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Corey Seager, Ross Stripling, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo.
“Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson kicked off the ceremonies, which included a parade of baseball players and their spouses; the presentation to King and Kloss by team owner/chairman Mark Walter; and remarks by Dodgers Foundation chief executive Nichol Whiteman.
“We are bigger than baseball,” said Whiteman, speaking of the many young people and their families who are helped by the foundation. “We want to be the premier charity of Los Angeles. We want to partner with this great city to transform the lives of many more.”
“It’s not what you get out of life,” said King, accepting her award. “It’s what we give to life that matters.”
Wrapping up his show, having sung “Just the Way You Are” with the audience, Mars said, “I hope you guys had just as much fun as we did,” adding, “It would mean the world to me and my band if we got everyone on the field singing this chorus one last time.” He then asked to turn the lights up so he could watch — and the audience sang with enthusiasm.
Mars closed the show with his hit with Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk.”
Tickets for the 2,000-plus guests ranged from $1,250 each to $100,000 for sponsorship packages of 30 tickets. With a focus on sports, recreation, education, literacy, health and wellness, the Dodgers Foundation has contributed more than $25 million to local programs serving the youth of Greater Los Angeles.
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