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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."