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Basketball’s Gasol Brothers Compete for Kids’ Health


NBA stars and brothers Pau and Marc Gasol are fierce competitors on the basketball court — and their rivalry didn’t stop this year when the season ended. But instead of facing off over baskets, the brothers squared-off to see who could lead a group of kids in living a healthier summer.

And while Pau might be a two-time NBA champion, it was Marc who earned bragging rights this time around.

The Gasol Foundation’s first annual Healthy Competition saw children in Los Angeles (where Pau plays for the Lakers) battle against kids in Memphis (home to Marc’s Memphis Grizzlies) to see who could become healthier through physical activity and healthy eating. While Marc’s team came out on top, all the children were winners, as they learned healthy habits to last a lifetime. (Everybody now: Awwwww.)

The highlight of the eight-week program came when the youngsters helped plant an American Heart Association Teaching Garden. The kids even used their harvest to create fresh, healthy salads, a meal that most of the kids hadn’t eaten before.

“What we’re doing is simple, elegant and fun. Kids can relate — and all the statistics show what changing eating habits can do,” said Kelly Meyer, an American Heart Association volunteer who founded the Teaching Gardens program. “We love working with athletes like Pau because they are very much a part of our message of being physically active and eating healthy foods.”

The Gasol brothers launched their foundation earlier this year to help fight the childhood obesity epidemic, targeting their work in Los Angeles and Memphis. The foundation’s mission is a natural fit with the work already being done by the Teaching Gardens program, which encourages kids to eat healthy in a hands-on way.

There are currently more than 200 Teaching Gardens across the United States, mostly in elementary schools. The students learn an eclectic mix of lessons as they plant seeds and tend to their gardens, including nutrition, math and science. As the school year goes on, they end up harvesting and tasting the fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor — which is important, since studies show young people are more likely to eat produce that they’ve grown themselves.

Along with showing off their green thumbs, the students taking part in the Healthy Competition received Nike FuelBands to track their daily physical activity. They also took part in other American Heart Association-sponsored activities, including a demonstration on cooking healthy meals.

While all the kids were winners, losing team captain Pau is expected to make good on a pre-competition bet with his brother by shaving his beard. 

Editor's note: is a project of the American Heart Association.