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L.A.'s Clayton Kershaw makes 1st All-Star start, shares touching moment with young boy

The National League and the American League faced off once again in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, with the AL winning (3-2) for the ninth consecutive season and 21st time in the last 25 meetings.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton was the game’s MVP after his home run in the fourth inning helped propel the AL to the victory. Yet for the many Dodgers fans in attendance, the story of Tuesday’s game was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw starting an All-Star Game for the first time in his legendary 15-year MLB career. And he got to do it in the only stadium he’s ever called home.

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The 34-year-old nine-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young winner pitched a scoreless first inning, which included a strikeout of Aaron Judge and a pick-off of Shohei Ohtani at first base.

“I tried to take a minute at the beginning to take it all in and look around, which I usually never do,” Kershaw said after the game, according to ESPN. “And I think the moment itself, being here at Dodger Stadium, a place where I’ve been now for 15 years, to get to do something like this with the best in the world, is really fun. And it was also really personal for me and my family, everybody.”

The decision for Kershaw to start became official on Saturday, as Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, who served as the NL’s All-Star Game manager, delivered him the news.

“What [Kershaw has] meant to the game of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think it’s just perfect that he starts this game,” Snitker told the L.A. Times.

Kershaw’s memorable day wasn’t over after the first inning, however.

As his postgame press conference concluded, he was called back to his microphone as a 10-year-old boy, Blake Grice, approached the podium. Grice shared that his grandfather, Graham, had made a bucket list and on it was to meet Kershaw, but Graham passed away of brain cancer before he was able to do it. So Grice stepped in and did it for him.

“My grandpa loved you,” Grice told Kershaw. “He watched the 1988 [World] Series and he wanted to meet you and Vin Scully one day. So this moment is important to me because I’m meeting you for him.”

When Grice began to cry, Kershaw jumped up to hug him. The touching moment ended with a photo of the aspiring media member and the hometown pitching hero together.

Kershaw is no stranger making kids around the world smile. Together with his wife, Ellen, the Kershaws operate Kershaw’s Challenge, a non-profit organization that serves vulnerable and at-risk children living in Los Angeles, Dallas, Zambia and the Dominican Republic. What started in 2011 as a relatively small mission of serving one girl in Zambia named Hope grew into a multi-nation service effort.

Clayton and Ellen joined “Table Forty,” a part of the Sports Spectrum Podcast Network, in May 2021 to discuss their various humanitarian efforts during Clayton’s long MLB career. In addition to their ventures with Kershaw’s Challenge, Clayton and Ellen have also been involved with International Justice Mission and other organizations to help make the world a better place.

The Kershaws say their desire to serve is all rooted in their faith in Jesus. It was God who had orchestrated their lives for His glory and the good of the world.

“I think [God] had this in mind,” Clayton said on the podcast. “My focus was obviously trying to play baseball and I hadn’t really thought about Africa, really in any sense. I didn’t feel like God had called me in any way to go over there. Ellen had that on her heart at an early age, and finally went over there in college, went over to Zambia.”

Then, just three weeks after they got married, Clayton joined Ellen on a trip to Zambia.

“That changed me,” he said. “That trip changed me, for sure. It put a lot of things into perspective about what joy truly is and where that comes from and what that looks like.”

 

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As one of the biggest names in baseball, Clayton has leveraged his platform to honor God. He has been outspoken about his faith in Christ throughout his career, and the Bible verse Colossians 3:23 is the only thing in his Twitter bio.

“[Ellen and I] were very fortunate to come from families that had great faiths as well,” Clayton said on the podcast. “At the end of the day, I think for me in high school it was just like, wrapping your head around who Jesus was; that was the biggest thing.

“If Jesus really is who He says He is … and He really did rise from the dead, then that should change our lives. That should look drastically different than any other religion and any other thing in our world. We should be different than any other types of people in this world because of what we believe in Jesus.”

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