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Clinton, Kobe to lead panel on kids and sports

AP - Sports

NEW YORK (AP) -- Former President Bill Clinton and NBA star Kobe Bryant will lead a panel on kids and sports at a conference next month.

The roundtable discussion will open the Clinton Health Matters Initiative Conference on Jan. 13 in La Quinta, Calif. Topics will include barriers to access, coaching quality and safety.

''There's so much to be gained, so much from health and fitness,'' Bryant told The Associated Press on Monday in Atlanta, where his Los Angeles Lakers were playing the Hawks. ''It's a really important initiative for kids to understand that you're not just getting the benefits of being healthy, you're also understanding how to be great leaders, how to be unselfish, how to work within a group, competitive spirit.''

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun will take part in the panel, which is still being formed, ESPN senior vice president Rob King said. Some NFL players will likely participate, depending on which teams have been eliminated from the playoffs by then.

Highlights of the roundtable will air on Feb. 9 on ESPN2 in prime time. That afternoon, Bryant's Lakers face the Chicago Bulls on broadcast partner ABC, and the game will be used to promote the show. The program will also feature interviews with athletes and segments on issues such as the number of children who don't have access to sports.

ESPN has been working with the Aspen Institute in reporting on issues involving youth and sports. The conference is held in conjunction with the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge, which is Jan. 16-19 in La Quinta.

King said Bryant reached out through Nike, which is involved through its Access to Sport Initiative.

''It's a part of where he wants to go post-career,'' King said Tuesday after an event at the Clinton Foundation in Manhattan announcing the conference.

Bryant called his message ''wisdom through sports.''

''Obviously I've been the beneficiary of learning all those things,'' Bryant said, ''so I think it's very important to be able to communicate that.''

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AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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