Kobe participates in reenlistment ceremony
HONOLULU -- Kobe Bryant picked up a different kind of assist. He called it a blessing and an honor.
The Los Angeles Lakers' star served as the witness to Chief Yeoman Lawrence A. Sivils' reenlistment to the U.S. Navy SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE on Friday at the Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus.
Sivils, from Louisville, Ky., has spent the past 19 years in the Navy -- the last three stationed at nearby Pearl City.
About a month ago, Sivils sent the Lakers an e-mail requesting Bryant's participation in the reenlistment ceremony. To his surprise, he was contacted last week by Lakers public relations director John Black, who told him Bryant would be honored to take part.
"I knew they were coming here for training camp," Sivils said. "He is my favorite basketball player -- smart, intelligent. And he's a good person. For Kobe to accept my invitation is greatly appreciated."
The brief ceremony was delayed for more than an hour because of a long Lakers practice. Bryant, wearing practice gear, shared the stage with Sivils and his wife, Shelonda, 9-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and 6-year-old son, Lawrence Jr.
The ceremony began with the 40-year-old Sivils receiving an honorable discharge certificate, as is the custom before reenlistment, which followed immediately.
"I could join the Lakers basketball team," Sivils said of his brief period as a civilian. "I've got Kobe here today."
Then, Sivils said: "I'm ready to rejoin for three more years. I love my country. I love to support my country."
When the ceremony ended, Sivils said: "I appreciate your all coming and Mr. Kobe Bryant for accepting my invitation."
Bryant seemed sincerely moved.
"I'm so honored. It was a blessing and an honor for me to be here," he said. "He's helping to protect our country. It's a chance for me to give back. I'm deeply honored to be here. It goes beyond words. To request my presence to be here, it's unbelievable.
"To be a part of it, to see his family, his wife, you can see how special this is."
Sivils said his friends were skeptical regarding Bryant's participation.
"People called me this morning saying, `Quit lying,"' Sivils said with a laugh.
Sivils presented Bryant with an engraved paddle and coin and a SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One baseball hat as souvenir gifts.
"Thank you so much. I really appreciate it," Bryant said.
Sivils said he plans to retire from the Navy in three years and coach basketball, a sport he played in high school and junior college. He has also been stationed in Japan, London, Iraq, Hong Kong and The Philippines.
Sivils first met Bryant on Thursday night, chatting briefly with him following practice.
"Meeting Kobe Bryant is a great feeling," Sivils said. "I've got family here, I've got all my friends. It's just a great honor that I'll never forget."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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