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Kobe to send eight minority college students to Italy

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers' All-Star guard Kobe Bryant announced Thursday he has offered eight college students a chance to go to Italy and discover the country where he spent part of his childhood.

"It's really exciting for us, to have the opportunity to do something like this," said Bryant, referring to the Vivo
Foundation that he started. The foundation's first program, called
Vivo Del Mondo, will organize a nine-day, all-expense paid trip to
Italy for eight black and Hispanic college students.

The students, who were selected by two scholarship funds, will
visit Rome, Florence and Venice beginning next week.

"With me growing up overseas -- being exposed to another world,
another culture, another way of life -- to able to open those doors
for somebody else is special," Bryant said.

Bryant, 27, spent eight years of his childhood in Italy while his father, Joe, was establishing himself as a basketball star
there. He speaks Italian fluently and has returned to Italy many
times since he and his family left in 1992.