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Rams tight end Cory Harkey wins skills challenge, and a truck, at Lakers game

As an all-league high school basketball player, Cory Harkey demonstrated superior skills on the court.

Free-throw shooting, apparently, was not one of them.

“I was horrible,” the Rams tight end said during a phone interview on Thursday.

Harkey was on the mark Wednesday night at Staples Center, making multiple shots that helped him win a skills challenge and a new truck during halftime of the Clippers’ victory over the Lakers.

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“I’m really pumped,” Harkey said, adding, “It’s kind of unreal to be honest with you.”

The 6-foot-4, 259-pound Harkey also is excited about returning to Los Angeles for the Rams’ first season in the Southland in more than two decades.

Harkey, 25, played football and basketball player at Chino Hills High before playing football at UCLA. He signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

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Harkey was an unrestricted free agent after last season. He signed a three-year contract with the Rams last month.

Harkey, the son of former Cal State Fullerton and major league pitcher Mike Harkey, said he and his wife are expecting a child and already have found a home in Southern California.

“We really couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.

Harkey won an extra vehicle by defeating other finalists in a dribbling, passing and shooting contest.

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Harkey said he attended a Lakers game about a month ago with his wife and friends and was asked at the arena if they would like to participate in the skills contest. Harkey took part, did fairly well and said he was told he could get a call back for the finals if he finished among the top competitors.

“I didn’t think much of it,” he said, “until I got a call about a week ago.”

Harkey said he went out Wednesday night intending to simply enjoy the experience, but once he got on the court his competitive nature took over.

“Any time I’m playing a sport, my competitive juices get flowing,” he said.

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Ron Rockoff, the Lakers’ executive director of corporate partnerships, said male and female contestants are selected randomly at games throughout the season by team staff. He said the Lakers were not aware that Harkey was a Rams player until after he won the contest.

After Harkey’s victory, the Lakers tweeted a photo, causing Rams teammates and coaches to send Harkey congratulatory text messages. The Rams begin their off-season program on April 18 in Oxnard.

“It will be pretty interesting,” he said, laughing, “when I see them.”


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