Lakers Fan Gets Virtual Playoff Seats for Community Work
By Timothy Parker Downtown Los Angeles PUBLISHED 10:15 AM ET Sep. 07, 2020
LOS ANGELES – As befitting someone with a downtown bird’s eye view of Staples Center, Tiana Gayton is among the lucky fans to get a virtual seat to Los Angeles Lakers playoff games in the NBA bubble in Orlando.
“You actually feel like you’re in the stands with a group of people behind you cheering all together,” Gayton explained.
The virtual seats are hard to come by. Those who land them can be seen across the world, cheering on their team.
Select season ticket holders are picked, as well as community leaders like Gayton.
She was selected because of her work as a development manager with the After-School All-Stars, Los Angeles chapter. The program provides support for academics, arts, robotics, and sports to about 20,000 young people across Southern California.
“That student that needs encouragement, that was me. I could never be a part of cheer and dance because the outfits were too expensive,” said Gayton
“You know I tried to be in basketball but you still have to buy uniforms. After-School All-Stars offers those for free,” she said.
Thanks in part, to partnerships like the one the organization has with the Lakers.
“We were able to bus almost 200 students and families to a Lakers game last November and most of them have never been,” Gayton said.
She began working with the non-profit organization in part because of Kobe Bryant. When she worked with his basketball camp, the late Laker legend brought in kids from the program.
“Through that partnership and how much Kobe cared about After School All-Stars. He actually at that point was an ambassador for all-stars. I wanted to know more,” she said.
Years later, the Lakers now know all about her. She was given 25 virtual tickets to give to those who also serve, including her husband, Jovan.
“It’s amazing man. That’s my wife. This is my team. So, it’s like a dream come true,” he said.
The Lakers rotate fans for virtual seats to give more people opportunities. They will face the and Rockets in game 3 in the Western Conference Semifinals Tuesday night. But that’s technically a Houston home game, so it will be Rockets fans displayed in the bubble.