Conversations With Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant Helped Mookie Betts Handle Fenway Park Return

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As the Los Angeles Dodgers continued with their road trip last week for a series with the Boston Red Sox, it represented the first time back at Fenway Park for Mookie Betts since he was traded prior to the 2020 season.

Betts was selected by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft and debuted with the club in 2014. He ended up spending six years in Boston while becoming one of the best players in baseball and helping them win a World Series championship.

Heading into the series, Betts felt some nerves about returning to Fenway, but Red Sox fans welcomed him back with standing ovations throughout the three games.

They were emotional moments for Betts, who tipped his helmet to the crowd and he went on to have a stellar series.

Over the three games, Betts went six-for-15 (.400) with one home run, four RBI and five runs scored. It is part of a torrid stretch that has propelled him to the top of the National League MVP race while batting .425/.489/.725 over his last 30 games.

He credits some of that production against the Red Sox to a skill taught to him by Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant about separating the emotions from performing, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“Got a job to take care of. You have to separate business and emotions and I’ve learned from a couple people and especially Kobe when I got to talk to him … and I just put it into my repertoire,” Betts said. “Obviously the emotions were there and I let them come, but I also let them go and you have to be able to separate it.”

Betts and Bryant became somewhat intertwined as L.A. sports icons who shared a relationship through Body Armor before the trade. Among them, Bryant narrated a video Betts shared on Twitter after the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series.

Betts also shared that Bryant had once helped him through struggles and the advice received was something the 2018 American League MVP intended to always remain mindful of.

In 2021, Betts recalled advice he received from Bryant when trading an autographed bat to a fan for the first home run ball from Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Friedl.

“Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting,” Betts said. “I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe, he just reminded me that by the time the game is over, somebody knows who you are and somebody recognizes you.

“Obviously that’s through our play, but it’s another way for somebody to impact someone’s life. I wasn’t really doing it for cameras. I was just doing it because he easily threw the ball back and didn’t even ask for anything.”

In addition, Betts was among the Dodgers who honored Bryant by wearing Nike Kobe 5 Pronto “Undefeated Hall of Fame” custom cleats.

Mookie Betts grateful for time with Dodgers

While Betts rose to prominence with the Red Sox and believed he would spend his entire career with their organization, he has thoroughly embraced being part of the Dodgers and wouldn’t give that up for anything.

It took some adjustment for Betts to get comfortable with the Dodgers, but he still put together a stellar first season that included a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger and culminated with helping the team win the 2020 World Series.

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