Celebrities and athletes came together at the Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala to celebrate the team’s commitment to supporting youth and to catch a glimpse of the event’s headliner: Bruno Mars.
Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were honored at the fifth annual event, which raised over $3 million for programs benefiting Los Angeles youth.
“I was born and raised in Compton,” “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson told Variety on the blue carpet about why he supports the Dodgers Foundation, especially LADF initiatives like teaching students how to do CPR and giving LAUSD students free eye exams. “It’s because of what they do in the community, particularly the community I come from.”
Billie Jean King is also from Southern California and opened up about growing up in Long Beach with her brother.
“We were park kids; we had free coaching in the parks. And my brother became a major league baseball player for 12 years. I got to be number one in the world for tennis,” she told reporters. “The only reason is because we had free access. I am living proof.”
The tennis legend went on to praise the Dodgers Foundation for building baseball diamonds across the city, which she credits for increasing black youth participation in baseball: “These diamonds are the reason they have access. You have to have access if you’re going to have the chance to live your dreams.”
“American Ninja Warrior” host Matt Iseman applauded the organization for supporting youth who “might not have the same opportunities, might not have the chance to be just kids.” Despite being a Colorado native and lifelong Rockies fan, Iseman told Variety he was a Dodger fan for the night. “When you’re in L.A., you have to be.” he explained. “Dodger Stadium is the cathedral of baseball.”
And though many Dodgers players were in attendance, their cathedral belonged to Mars on Wednesday night. The Grammy-winner put on an hour-long concert for the crowd of nearly 2,000 in the outfield of the famed baseball stadium, opening with “24K Magic” and closing with “Uptown Funk.”
“I like to call Bruno a friend,” Anderson quipped, saying he was excited to see the performer again, having already seen him live several times. Iseman also gushed over the entertainer, adding, “I liken him to Prince or Michael Jackson. [He’s]a guy who can do everything.”
The celebrity guest list also included Prince Jackson, Tiffany Haddish, Magic Johnson and Haley Joel and Emily Osment.