When it was revealed that a charitable bidder paid $67,100 for Kobe Bryant’s sweaty face mask, even the most diehard of fans had to wonder, who would fork over that much cash for a piece of plastic?
The mystery was solved earlier this week when businessman –- and serious Bryant supporter –- Hasmit Popat came forward.
The Florida and Texas resident told ESPN that the mask Bryant wore after breaking his nose “represents a part of NBA history.” Plus, he was excited that the proceeds of his purchase would support the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which helps homeless youth in Los Angeles.
“It’s a very good cause,” Popat told the news source. “I believe in his charitable event for homeless people in Los Angeles.”
It's a cause to which Bryant says he feels connected.
When Bryant learned that between 7,000 and 10,000 of L.A.'s homeless are under the age of 24, he said at a press conference that the figure "shocked the hell out of me.” As a father of two, he said it just "hits home more."
The pair started the foundation in 2011, and partner with several Los Angeles organizations to empower young homeless people. The charity also funds after-school programs, and has a scholarship program that introduces young people to Chinese culture, according to the nonprofit’s website.
And while Popat's donation will certainly help fight youth homelessness, it may even do more than that. The businessman told ESPN that he plans on reselling the mask at some point, and will donate those proceeds to charity as well.
“In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy it,” Popat told ESPN. “My purpose was to give something back and also have a piece of NBA history.”
To learn more about the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation, click here.
Check out photos of Kobe in his "sweaty" mask below.
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