Last season I had the privilege of attending a Lakers game at the Staples Center. As a lifelong Lakers fan this was an exciting experience for me, and the area around Staples center was incredible. The area, known as LA Live, was filled with expensive cars and beautiful buildings. The walkways leading to the Staples Center were decorated with statues of former Lakers greats, and packed with people. The rest of the area is filled with nice restaurants, expensive stores and well-lit buildings.
However, one of the most striking aspects of my visit was not related to the Lakers at all. During the trip to and from the Staples Center, I noticed the stark contrast between LA Live and the area only a few blocks away. In the span of less than a mile the city transformed from the glitzy metropolis described above, to a dingy, seedy looking area filled with poverty. Where once the streets were lined with expensive cars and tourists, the streets were now packed with the shelters and belongings of the homeless.
This experience truly put into perspective the struggles that so many people experience on a daily basis. The immediacy of the shift between the rich and poor was especially striking to me as someone who has spent most of my life in the suburbs. Los Angeles is a place in which it is often easy to isolate ourselves from those less fortunate than us, but I think it is important to maintain an awareness of what others in our community are going through.