LOS ANGELES — On Saturday afternoon, many of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles had the opportunity to meet and greet [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] and NBA superstar LeBron James. More importantly, however, those same children will now be able to enjoy a completely renovated gym featuring a mural by esteemed artist and L.A. native Mr. Cartoon — and, hopefully, received some added inspiration to achieve their dreams — thanks to Jay and LeBron's Two Kings charity and its co-sponsor, the Coca-Cola Company's Sprite brand.
The renovation was the first under Coca-Cola's
target="_blank">Sprite Spark Parks Project
target="_blank">Sprite Spark Parks Project, which plans to completely renovate more than 100 neighborhood spaces, including parks, fields and basketball courts.
MTV News caught up with the rap icon and the basketball superstar at the gym's unveiling, which was held in conjunction with the NBA All-Star Weekend. Jay said he and James continue to give back because they were once just like those children in the room.
"We are those kids that didn't have those opportunities, and luckily lightning struck for us," explained Jay. "We happened to be in the right place at the right time, with God-given talent. ... Some other people need help and opportunity, so it's empathy. I am you. I've been in the same place that these kids have been."
Jay said the Two Kings charity started out because he and James wanted to utilize the financial clout of some of the people with whom they were doing business. They wanted to be more than paid endorsers smiling with a soft-drink can. They wanted to use their opportunities to achieve something positive.
"We wanted to take this relationship and do some good," maintained Jay. "Take all these people and put them in a room. Take their power and influence and use them, but use them in a good way to effect good all over."
This is the third consecutive year that Jay-Z and James' charity has hosted such an event during NBA All-Star Weekend. In 2009, Two Kings donated 150 instruments to the music program at Mesa Arts Academy in Mesa, Arizona. And last year, the two celebrities led a mentoring session at the East Dallas Club of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Dallas in Texas.
In addition, Sprite has provided scholarships to top-performing students on their behalf.