Saturday, June 23, 2012 | 11:15 a.m.
Warren Moon’s Annual Celebrity Dream Bowl 2012Saturday, June 23, 3:30pm: The Sports Dream Bowl Event at Texas Station Evening of June 23: VIP afterparty with athletes & sponsors — Surrender Nightclub at the Wynn
NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon holds his 12th annual Sports Dream Bowl at Texas Station today to benefit the Urban Youth Scholarship Fund. The legendary quarterback’s national charity provides scholarships to inner city youth in their pursuit of higher education; 10 recipients are being honored this year, including four from Las Vegas.
Moon, along with this year’s scholarship winners and a slate of athletes and celebrities, will face off at Star Lanes this afternoon for the celebration and fundraiser. I caught up with him Friday afternoon at the Cosmopolitan as he prepared to meet the winners and their families at an opening cocktail reception, where the soft-spoken Moon weighed in on his legacy, Las Vegas, his bowling skills and more.
A.D.:So how’s your bowling game?
W.M.: [laughs] It’s not something I play all the time; I probably bowl five times a year. But I’m really good at throwing the ball straight. I’m about a 160, 170 bowler so I feel like I’m pretty good – I’m average, but I don’t stink, you know? But what happens in this tournament is that the guys get really competitive. I’ll tell you, Ray Lewis last year was giving motivational speeches to the guys on his team and he’s down on the ground telling them how much he needs them on this particular roll. It’s amazing how these guys get into this — you would think they’re playing for a million dollars! When it’s over, they’re worn out like they were playing a football game or something.
A.D.: What was the inspiration behind your foundation, and why the focus on education?
W.M.: When I was coming up as a kid, there were programs that kept me out of trouble and on the straight and narrow in South Central Los Angeles, and I always felt that when I got to a stage where I could provide similar opportunities to kids then I would do that. I also had an agent, Lee Steinberg, who would push that on his clients. He wouldn’t even take you as a client if you didn’t want to give back to the community. So it was a combination of our personal feelings that fueled my motivation.
Education was important because I knew that every kid couldn’t be a professional football player, couldn’t be an entertainer or an actor. But as long as you have an education in this society you have a chance to be successful. There are a lot of kids who come from the inner city who have the desire or the academic requirements but somehow get left out on academic scholarships. So my thing was to look for those kids who are involved in their community but just don’t have the financial means. I also try to look for kids in the cities where I had an impact, where I played or left an imprint of who I am, whether it was Minnesota or Houston or Seattle or Los Angeles, and then, of course, Las Vegas, because that’s where we host this.
A.D.: Why Las Vegas? What makes the city a good fit for an event like this?
W.M.: It’s such a magnet for people wanting to come here and have a good time. For any event we do want to raise a lot of money, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun – that’s kind of the philosophy of my foundation and my marketing business. Vegas is a good place to do that because most people don’t mind coming here for a free weekend. And especially when that’s for a good cause, that makes it a win-win situation.
A.D.: Are you still in touch with past recipients? Where have they ended up?
W.M.: They’re all over. One works for Exxon in a high-level management position. There’s another who’s a big commercial real estate guy in Dallas. The other day I happened to run into one who now helps establish charities for people – she runs a multimillion-dollar charity company now. A lot of them are very successful and I get letters all the time just to thank me for the opportunity I gave them, no matter how many years ago it was.
A.D.: What was your reaction to that – to happen run into someone and see not only that they’re successful, but that they’re paying it forward?
W.M.: That’s what this whole thing is about. When I talk to these kids I tell them that when they grow up and do well, they should try to go back into their communities and help someone else who’s less fortunate. It’s a good feeling to know that you played an important part in somebody’s success. I made a lot of money playing the game — I set records, scored a lot of touchdowns, all that. But you can’t take that stuff with you (when you die). What I’m doing right now is important to my legacy, as far as “Did I make a difference while I was here?” Once I leave here, hopefully I’ll be able to say I made it a little bit better of a place than when I came. My legacy isn’t about what I did playing football, but how I use the opportunities that came from playing football.
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