Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The offseason has been busy for Mookie Betts, who recently got married to Brianna Hammonds at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The couple then vacationed in Mexico for their honeymoon before returning to the United States.
Since that time, Betts has been to Tennessee, Arizona and Las Vegas. His latest visit to Vegas was via invite from University of Kentucky men’s basketball team head coach John Calipari.
The Wildcats were taking part in the 2021 CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena for a showdown against fellow blue blood North Carolina. Kentucky was originally slated to face Ohio State over the weekend, and the Tar Heels were due to play UCLA.
However, the Buckeyes and Bruins both needed to withdraw from the marquee event due to COVID-19 cases within their respective programs. Kentucky went on for a comfortable 98-69 victory over North Carolina.
The Wildcats’ win came in front of an audience that not only included Betts, but Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Friedl as well. Friedl, Calipari’s cousin, and Betts then addressed Kentucky in the locker room after the game.
Great team win tonight!
Loved having @mookiebetts and my cousin @TjFriedl1 here with us. They talked to the team after the game about selflessness and the importance of being your brother’s keeper! #LaFamilia pic.twitter.com/rextWEr9CU
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 19, 2021
Betts and Friedl share a connection from a September game the Los Angeles Dodgers played at Great American Ball Park. Friedl slugged his first career home run during the series, and Betts managed to retrieve the ball from a fans in the stands by trading an autographed bat for it.
“I just asked him for the ball. It was kind of sign language. I said, ‘I’ll throw you another ball. That’s his first home run, so can you throw it back?’ He didn’t hesitate, threw it right back,” Betts explained at the time.
“I was going to throw him a ball, but I thought about giving him a bat instead so that maybe it would be something he remembers a little bit more.”
Part of the reasoning to provide the fan with a bat was advice L.A. Lakers icon Kobe Bryant had once shared with Betts.
“Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting. 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,” Betts recalled.
“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.”
Betts began offseason hitting
Prior to accepting an invitation from Calipari to watch Kentucky play, Betts was back in Tennessee and began an offseason hitting program at M3 Baseball Training Facility.
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