Cabbie gets apology for 'knuckleheads'

LOS ANGELES -- The apologetic president and CEO of Staples Center owner AEG on Monday gave a $10,000 check to a cabbie whose taxi was burned by a mob when violence erupted near the arena after the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship last week.

"On behalf of all the knuckleheads, we apologize and hopefully that helps you get on your feet a little bit," Tim Leiweke told Abraham Teferi during the presentation at AEG offices.

Teferi, a 41-year-old Ethiopian immigrant with limited English, said the attackers shook his cab to try to turn it over.

"I was thinking they can kill me. That's all I was thinking. They burned the car," said Teferi, who has been in the United States for nine years and has been a taxi driver for seven years.

Leiweke said the taxi was covered by the cab company's insurance, so AEG decided to give the money to Teferi.

"I was more concerned about Abraham because he doesn't have insurance to pay for his food and his house and his livelihood," Leiweke said.

"We're asking everyone to use Abraham as an example of how we can celebrate together without having to go burn things up," he added.

The gesture was reminiscent of the aftermath of the Lakers' 2000 championship, when the team and then-center Shaquille O'Neal each gave nearly $43,000 to the city to replace two squad cars that were burned in post-game violence. That mob also smashed store windows, started bonfires and vandalized 74 autos at nearby dealerships.