Recipient of scholarship to be chosen by organization in Jackie's name
Barry M. Bloom
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp is planning on turning his love and respect for Jackie Robinson into at least a $15,000-a-year college scholarship over the course of four years to a minority student in need, designated by the foundation established in the late Hall of Famer's name.
"I'm in the process of handling all that," Kemp told MLB.com before Monday night's pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium to honor the 66th anniversary of the day Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. "That's a great organization and they're doing a lot of great things, so I'd love to help out with some friends of mine. We want to be a part of it."
The foundation was established by Robinson's widow, Rachel, in 1973, a year after her husband's death from complications of diabetes and heart disease. She, along with her daughter, Sharon, are on the board of the foundation, which is run by president and chief executive Della Britton.
Sharon confirmed on Monday that Kemp intended to offer a scholarship through the foundation. Two types of scholarship programs are available: a four-year basic scholarship at $15,000 a year that totals $60,000, or an "endowed" scholarship, which requires a $250,000 up-front contribution to create an invested fund, which generates the income to offer a scholarship at any particular time.
Derek Jeter of the Yankees and NBA great Michael Jordan are the only players who contributed an "endowed" scholarship. Major League players LaTroy Hawkins, Orlando Hudson, Edwin Jackson, David Price and Jimmy Rollins are currently contributing a $60,000 scholarship, which can be paid in a lump sum or split in $15,000 increments over four years.
"Matt's a great kid," said Sharon, who attended a Breaking Barriers event with Kemp at Washington Middle School in nearby Pasadena, Calif., earlier on Monday. "We're glad to have him on board doing this."
Washington Middle School was attended by Jackie Robinson as a child after his family moved from Georgia to Southern California. Rachel is also from Pasadena and still has family there.
"My brother lives in the house on 36th Place," Rachel said. "That's the house I was born in, and he still lives in it. So I still have ties to Los Angeles."
The foundation has given 1,400 scholarships over the years to college students, and it has a graduation rate of nearly 100 percent, Sharon said. Three Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars currently attending UCLA were with the Robinsons on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp said he has studied Robinson's life and become an acolyte of Don Newcombe, the 86-year-old former Dodgers pitcher who was a teammate of Robinson's in Brooklyn during the 1950s and still works for the club in community relations.
"Growing up, I knew about Jackie Robinson, but I didn't know the significance of it as much as I do now," Kemp said. "Talking to Mr. Don Newcombe and some of those other guys who played with Jackie and had been around Jackie, knew him as a person and what he went through, they've told me those stories. Jackie was a strong man who knew how to turn the other cheek.
"He knew how to walk away from situations, unlike myself at times. I don't know if I'd have been that type of person. It takes a strong man to do something like that. For Jackie to do what he did, I'm thankful for that."