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Basketball star Kobe Bryant launches China fund, Added: 09 July 2009
International basketball star Kobe Bryant, who won the NBA most valuable player award in 2008 and the NBA finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009, is establishing a fund to raise money for education and healthcare programmes in China, where he is one of the most popular sportsmen.
The Kobe Bryant China Fund will partner with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government, which offers educational, healthcare and sports programmes to young people.
In the US, Bryant’s existing fund, the Kobe Bryant Family Foundation, set up in 2006, will also work to strengthen ties between the two countries by teaching middle school students about Chinese language and culture.
Donald Tang, founder and CEO of financial advisory firm CITIC Securities International Partners, helped guide Bryant’s China fund. He said the athlete’s popularity can help forge that connection. “At the elite level, China and the US have already connected, but there is no grass-roots connection,” Tang told the Wall Street Journal. “I think he can be a one-man State Department, reaching directly to the people.”
Replicas of Bryant’s jerseys outsell all other licensed NBA products in China, include Chinese NBA player Yao Ming.