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Former L.A. Lakers player Vlade Divac visits Swiss Guard at the Vatican

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Former Los Angeles Lakers player Vlade Divac recently met with the Swiss Guard to discuss sports as well as learn about their work at the Vatican. "I was very excited to be here, and they have a basketball team here with very tall people," the 7-foot, 1-inch Divac said. "I also told them that if they need a coach, I can help them out," he said last month.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The occasion marked the first time the world-famous player met with members of the Pope's protective force. Accompanied by his wife Ana, Divac arrived with a small group of participants from the TEDx Conference on Religious Freedom.

"They do a lot of hard work to protect the people at the Vatican," Divac said from his seat atop centuries old cannon.

Corporal Urs Breitenmoser, one of the Swiss Guards said it was "very awesome and great fun" to receive the former professional basketball player at their barracks.

The guards have a small basketball team that plays once or twice a week against teams from around Rome. Corporal Breitenmoser is their center, which is the same position Divac played for 16 years in the NBA.

"I'm a big basketball fan and I've been following the NBA since the 90s, so I have a pretty good idea of what happened at that time and who Vlade Divac was," he said.

"So for me it was an incredible personal meeting and for him also since he got to know the Swiss guards, our history, and to see how we do our service for the Holy Father."

Divac gave Breitenmoser along with other off-duty guards some useful pointers on the hook shot. They also talked basketball and about his career at the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings.

Divac was in Rome in April to speak alongside others, such as singer Gloria Estefan, graffiti artist Mohammed Ali and Soumaya Slim, museum curator and daughter of the world's richest man. All are participating in an event called TED x ViadellaConciliazione. The "x" in the title indicates the meeting was organized independently of the TED organization, while the last half of the title refers to the main street that leads to the Vatican, where the event was held.

Standing for Technology, Entertainment and Design, TED began in 1984 and it is centered on inviting speakers to give talks on "ideas worth spreading" in brief speeches.

Divac does not play for the Lakers anymore, but he is still involved in sports and is president of the Olympic Committee in his native Serbia.

Divac currently runs the Humanitarian Organization Divac, a group that began helping civil war refugees and orphans find homes five years ago. "We also work with the youth and help them achieve their dreams," said Divac.

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