The 3rd Annual Josh Hutcherson Celebrity Basketball Game | 20140808

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Belated Happy KCON 2014 weekend!  I skipped it this year.  My funds went elsewhere, namely a very pricey medical copay and... the best impulse purchase that my monies could buy.

The 3rd Annual Josh Hutcherson Celebrity Basketball Game.  It kicks off the yearly Nike 3on3 basketball tournament.  The event that I was going to fell on a Friday, also Roger Federer's birthday, which meant a half day at work.  Some people have their after-work clubbing.  I am willing to skip work all together for things that I love.  Truth.  This event benefits the Straight But Not Narrow organization, Josh's own.

AXS sent an email the day before the event with the schedules and rules and whatnot.  That totally threw all my plans out the window.  It broke my wee little heart to read "No cameras and no autographs at the Meet & Greet."  Darn, I had something very special for Josh to sign.  *sadface*  And the times also meant an even shorter half day at work.  Hey, at least I showed up.

I got to LA Live at around 2PM, a good hour before box office opened.  Already there were girls lined up so I surrendered to the sun and baked.  One good thing that happened while baking under said sun was meeting a fellow Filipina and fan, Alyson.  I admit, I go to these events mostly alone but the best times I've had are always spent in good company of friends and fellow fans.  I'm really happy that I met Alyson at this event.  We had so much in common, it was creepy.  BUT it made the whole experience so much more FUN.

I splurged on a Courtside VIP ticket.  Hey, it's for a good cause.  I attend free events all the time so I should pay for my fun once in a while, right?  Anyway, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought Courtside meant the first row of the bleachers behind some barricades but nooooo... the placement of our seats alone made the $260 price tag well worth it and so much more.

It also included a signed item.  It's a small basketball.  I forgot to bring my shopping tote so my poor - but large - shoulder bag was stuffed with said ball and two Straight But Not Narrow shirts that I got at the merch table.  We received wristbands with "VIP" on them and I felt a bit nostalgic.  Next day, Saturday would've been G-Dragon night at KCON 2014.  I once said that I will not miss a Big Bang or GD appearance in Los Angeles but alas... priorities.

The line to the actual Meet & Greet was also under the hot sun.  The struggle this time was not the risk of sunburn but in keeping both hair and makeup somewhat presentable.  This is a difficult thing, people, especially knowing that at the end of that line, you'll be meeting one of your current obsessions.  (Note: Obsession is a rather strong word but give me this pass, willya? It's been a long, long while since I had a legit crush on someone, celebrity or no.) It all held up okay, methinks.  Thank, Yevon!  (If you got that reference, we should be bffs.)

Cate-niss and Peeta, anyone? 

Super-duper thanks to the professional photographers for making me look good beside this incredibly good-looking man.  Look ma, he didn't have to stoop down for a pic!  ^_^

Alyson was in front of me in the line.  She even had a gift for Josh, a Funkopop Batmobile and he loved it.  I saw how his face lit up when he saw it and thus, it broke the ice between them.  Alyson was telling me that this was her first celebrity encounter and understandably, she was nervous.  I may have helped her a little bit but it was all her in the end.  Awesome job!

Then... me.  We were given 25 seconds per encounter which is actually quite long considering the other "encounters" I've had at premieres and whatnot.  Alyson's and the other fans' excitement did affect me so my heart started racing and for the first time, I didn't know what to say to him.  I placed my bag on the table they provided and as I walked over to him, nervous crooked smile on my face, I was still drawing blanks.  25 seconds is NOT enough when you spend 10 of those 25 blanking out and internally spazzing.

But.  But.  But.  He was the one who broke the ice between us.  I walked over to him and immediately, he gave me the warmest of hugs.  My arms under his, his arms around my middle; I started talking as soon as he touched me.  (And no, you strange people, he did not smell like anything.)  I began to tell him that I totally called that he was going to be Peeta.  When I first read The Hunger Games, for some reason, my mind immediately went to "the boy from The Bridge to Terabithia" as Peeta Mellark.  Oh how right I was.  I wanted to tell him all of that but the conversation went like this:
Josh: Hi there! *hugs*
Cate: Hey! Oh, I totally called it that you'd be Peeta.  *looked into his eyes and lost it a little bit*
Josh: *arm around my shoulders, facing front for the pic* Aw, you did? You should've told me so I wouldn't have been so nervous.
Cate: *trying not to move my mouth as the shutters clicked* Aw, you shouldn't be. You're perfect.
Josh: *one last smile* Thank you for coming.
Obviously, I'm not yet dead after that last smile.  But look at that picture.  My smile was splitting my face because not 3 seconds before, he was hugging me.  HUGGING ME.  Damn, I'm shaking again.  This was my tweet/status update about a minute later as I was leaning against a wall, composing myself:

The number one thing that I remember from all of that was he was warm.  SO WARM.  Like... boyfriend warm.  Okay, before you think that I'm a fangirl about to lose herself, I'm not.  Well, maybe I am but not really.  Hee.  You see, I don't get starstruck... much.  I'm not immune but I think I handle it better than others.  I don't cry, scream, sob.  But I shake.  My hands trembled the moment I realized that Leonardo diCaprio would be walking inches from me at the Inception premiere.  The ground felt like it fell from under me the first time Alexander Skarsgard smiled at the one Generation Kill fan in the sea of Trubies.  I scream like a crazy person whenever I see Jeremy Renner in the flesh.

With Josh Hutcherson, and that very warm hug, I had to lean against something.  When I was composing the Instagram caption for the photo above, my hands shook as well.  Every time someone Likes my status update, I get reminded of that moment and I get that happy bursting feeling again.  He had his arm on my shoulder, my hand on his back.  Yes, I meet a lot of celebrities but rarely do I touch them.  So honestly, this was relatively all new to me too.

(Please note that I've taken several breaks, walking away from the computer to control my giggle fit.  The struggle is real, my fangirls and boys.)

Anyway, after taking back control of my limbs, Tom's Urban was kind enough to provide free food.  After that encounter, I had no appetite for anything but water but managed to down some fries and pizza.  Giggling like manic schoolgirls, Alyson and I tried to loiter to get a glimpse of Josh, bought some merch while we were at it.  But eventually, we had to go line up for the main event.

The sparkly VIP wristbands allowed us to jump the forming line and we found ourselves seated near one of the baskets.  I may be jumping forward in my wee story but here's a video from Ben Lyon's Instagram.  I am the girl wearing the hot orange-red tank top on the slight upper left corner of the video:

See me?  I actually have a picture of Ben taking this video of Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Pitch Perfect, Kick-Ass, Superbad).

That's the view from my seat.  We actually almost got hit by a ball on our way there.  And throughout the game, we were half-guarded against wayward basketballs and sweaty bodies.  Not that we minded the sweaty bodies lol.

Speaking of Ben Lyons, you might know him from E! or more recently, Extra.  I really like him.  I liked watching his segments on movies because his smile is infectious.  Hee!  He was the first one that I saw at warm ups.  He was using the basket closest to us.  Now, I was confused as to why people weren't calling out to him and the other celebrities already on court.  They actually knew them more than I did; I only recognized Ben at that time.  Being that I have no shame, I called out to him.  And that started the others off as well.  Other people, idk got over their shyness and started calling the other celebs for pics and autographs.

Me, I ended up obsessing (again, using that term very lightly) on both Josh Hutcherson and Ben Lyons the whole night.  One was with the White Team and the other was on the Black Team.  I had no allegiance... none at all.

I loved watching Ben both during warmups and the game itself.  He was so much fun, doing yoga poses, dancing, laughing... and that smile!  And then again, I knew him the most out of the roster so I tend to follow/watch the people that I know vs those that I don't.

And did I mention that he was just the sweetest?  Alyson and I were seated beside another girl named Hayley and I truly believe that it was the three of us that enjoyed that time the most... among the courtside VIP people at least.  We were loud and animated and... idk, it was tons of fun out there.

But I digress.  Back to Ben.  Before the 4th quarter of the game started, he suddenly walked over to our area and started chatting.  To us!  Only!  OMG.  To this moment, I'm still shocked that that happened.  As if all the emotions of being at close proximity to Josh and these other celebs aren't enough.  He went over to us with that adorable smile and:
Ben: So are you guys having fun?
Us: *jumble of words* Yes, it's awesome!
Ben: Great!
And I thought that was that.  But then he started talking about how starstruck he is over former NFL player Terrell Owens who was playing for the White Team (Ben was with the Black Team).
Ben: I mean, man!  That's TO, number 81.  I'm a huge fan.  And to play against him.  I'm like... whoa, then he makes a shot over your head and you think, oh yeah... we're playing a game here.
Cate: So how are you keeping it together?
Ben: No idea.  *laughs*
I had to sing the first few Elphaba lines from The Wizard and I.  (Did that really just happen?)

Kyle Massey (That's So Raven) also went over to us as did Josh Henderson (Desperate Housewives).  They weren't as chatty as Ben but at least they came by to say hi.

But another guy that I was so excited to meet - or should I say, "meet again" - was Clark Gregg.  Agent, uh I mean, DIRECTOR Phil Coulson of the Marvel universe.  This wasn't my first time meeting him, it's actually the fourth.  But it's the first selfie!  He was awesome to watch.  We're familiar with him being this all-put-together agent who rarely smiles but on court, he's fun.  He even joined the Clipper Girls for a dance or two lol.

And if there's something that I'll take from this game, it's this: basketball is not for "tall" people only.  And by tall, I mean 6' up.  Clark Gregg scored the first points of the game.  And he continued doing so throughout the game.  JHutch himself had some awesome 3-pointers and free throws.  And Bracin Skywalker, #1 jersey in the picture above, was the fastest man on court and scored a lot of points as well.  And none of them are taller than 5'10".

Chuy Bravo was also there.  LOL man, I wished he went over to us.  He definitely knows who I am.  My former boss owns the building where his restaurant, Chuy Bravo's Taqueria, is located.  I met him twice before leaving that job and I've spoken to him over the phone many times.

It was around 7PM-ish and the weather started to turn chilly, sun's getting ready to go down when Josh Hutcherson finally arrived on court.  Of course, the crowd went ballz.  He did the press line and eventually started to warm up.  He was wearing the SNBB shirt from the M&G with white shorts on so he was on the White Team.  And he was giving all of the celebrity players a hug, shaking hands, more hugs.  The smile on his face... it was like when Peeta first waves at the Capitol citizens from the train.  So real and earnest.

And hey, he chose our side of the court for practice.  Can anyone say "perfect seats"?  ;-)  Of course, he ventured to the other side as well but he got him first... and most.  His jersey number was 8.  Coincidentally, it's my "life" number.  I mean, I even have it in my name = c8.  Friends from high school would get it. ;-)

Now, a professionally taken photo with Josh was fine and dandy.  But I wanted a selfie.  And for him to sign my special thing.  I don't usually go for autographs, if at all but I just had to this time.  If ever I have something with me for a celebrity to sign, it's always something unexpected.  At True Blood premieres, I had Alexander Skarsgard sign only Generation Kill stuff.  And Martin Freeman signed me Map to Erebor.  So what did I have for Josh Hutcherson?  You guys can have your The Hunger Games merch signed.  I have this:

Excuse the flash but you can definitely see his signature there.  Josh voiced the character Markl from the English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle.  How many of you thought of that?  ;-)  And thus, we come to my second moment with the man of the night:
After taking our selfie, I asked him if he could sign something for me.
Josh: Sure.
I hand over my DVD and pen.  He looks down; it's probably routine to him, signing stuff for fans.  But when he saw the DVD in his hand.
Josh: Oh, hey cool!  You know I'm in this?
Cate: Of course!
Josh: (signs) Yay thanks!
I can't even begin to explain how his face, his eyes lit up.  I see the same thing every time I present anything GK to ASkars.  That's what I want.  Now, ASkars might know me as the GK girl.  Maybe Josh would remember me as the girl who knows about Howl's Moving Castle.  LOL, I know I'm neither the first nor the only one to have him sign this but I'm pretty sure that I was the only one at this particular event.  ;-)

The event proper started not long after that.  The charity game followed an actual basketball game, four quarters, all rules apply.  The event managed to raise around $37,000 for SNBB.  Josh also introduced their partnership with the Trevor Project.  This all makes me so happy!  I remember my first volunteer opportunity in the USA was with Outfest, another organization championing the LGBTQ community.
I admit, I'm not much of a basketball fan.  I know the rules and scoring well enough but I wouldn't call myself a fan.  And oh, I throw a mean free throw.  Seriously.  But being courtside with celebrities, especially Josh Hutcherson playing?  You betcha I cheered my little heart out.  For both black and white teams.  I just could not choose.

One of my favorite moments was at when they called out the Fab 4 for a dunking exhibition.  They called Josh out for one of the stunts called The Statue of Liberty dunk.  I managed to get a video of it, posted it right away on my Instagram.  (Let me get on my soapbox real quick: If you're going to post my videos or photos on your personal account and please, PLEASE, either tag me or give credit where credit is due.  I love sharing, that's why my Instagram is never locked, but these events that I go to take so much effort and like this one, is not cheap.  So please, my twitter/Instagram is @tonicate10.  Remember that.)

It got pretty intense at times.  Like I said, we were constantly on the ready to dodge flailing limbs and balls.  But it was so much fun.  JHutch scored a 3-pointer towards the end of the 4th and right after that, Ben Lyons scored his own 3-pointer.  Allegiances, right out the window.  By the time the game ended, it was dark and that was when LA Live is most beautiful.  Team White won 78 over Team Black's 55.  And I managed to get one of JHutch's beautiful free throws on video.  (Again, credit.)

The event finally came to a close.  Josh was named MVP (although frankly speaking, I can name 2 other people who technically deserves that more.  But since the event and organization are his brainchildren, I guess he is MVP) and he went on a final walk around the court.

I was busy observing the chaos around me that I didn't even realize that Josh was one person to my right, giving high fives and final thank you's.  Queue awkward moment of the night:
Josh had his arm up for high fives.  The girls beside me were giggling and twittering, high fiving him back.  When he got to me, he placed his hand back on the basketball and smiled at me.  For 3 seconds, we were just there looking at each other but my brain was racing, "What do I do?  What do I do?!"  I'm not used to giving high fives and really, I was so unprepared for the situation.  So I just shyly offered him my palm for my own five.  And with a final "thanks-for-coming-smile", he was off to the next person.
Sigh.  And that, as they say, is that.


It was definitely the most fun I've had in a very long time.  Premieres are fun and the thrill of meeting celebrities is always awesome.  But events like this where you share air with them for an extended period of time is something else.  I've been to panels and Q&A's but never to something like this.  I mean, I'm still smiling and it's already Monday night as I wrap this up.  Yes, I am a Josh Hutcherson fan and it was such a thrill being that close to him so many times but the whole experience is just so incredible.  I'll definitely do it all over again next year.

And once again, the dedication of fans never fails to amaze me.  It makes me realize and treasure how extremely lucky I am that I live in the middle of all this.  I've heard fans say that they're from Chicago, Indiana, NorCal, Baltimore, the Philippines... thousands of miles of travel just to attend this event.  Had they asked me, "Uhh... I took the Gold, Red, and Blue/Expo train lines to get here from Pasadena."  That sounds rather lame compared to crying out, "I'm from BALTIMORE!" or some place where you need to get on a plane.  Honestly speaking, if this were held in Anaheim, I wouldn't have come.  Living in LA spoiled me.  But it does NOT mean I'm a bad fan.  Just lazy, I guess lol.

Many thanks to Alyson and her brother and sister-in-law.  Maybe it was meant to be that we meet at the line before the event.  It was so special sharing it with someone who understood and didn't judge.  Also, super thanks to Ben Lyons who is just the sweetest.  It totally made my night when he came over to us and it was fitting that Alyson and I ended the day with one last selfie with Ben for the road.

And he said he liked my monkey pendant.  He called it my "little monkey friend".  Hee!

Picture dump.

Josh Henderson
Kyle Massey
So many things going on...
Director doesn't look too happy.
Trevor Project