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NASCAR Announcer

Steve Byrnes Dies of Cancer

Days After Tribute

36 minutes ago BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0421-steve-byrnes-twitter-02FOX Sports announcer Steve Byrnes died Tuesday of cancer ... just 2 days after NASCAR fans, drivers and crew members paid him an emotional track side tribute.

Byrnes -- one of FOX's leading reporters for its NASCAR coverage -- was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in August of 2013. He was forced to take an indefinite leave from the job last year in October.

FOX and NASCAR teamed with Stand Up to Cancer to dedicate Sunday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway to Steve. Before the race people in the stands ... and crew members on pit road held up signs with Steve's name.

Byrnes is survived by his wife Karen and their 12-year-old son Byrson. He was 56.

L.A. Clippers

Got Lakers Permission

For Locker Room Takeover

56 minutes ago BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0421-lakers-clippers-staples-getty-01The Clippers aren't trolling the Lakers by turning the team locker room into an owners lounge for the NBA playoffs -- they asked the team for permission and got it ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

There were rumblings that the Clips were trying to diss Laker Nation by using their space at Staples Center as Steve Ballmer's personal hangout area ... since the Clips are still playing and the Lakers didn't even come close to the playoffs. 

But it just ain't the case -- at least according to Staples Center honcho Lee Zeidman who tells us there was an arrangement made before the 1st playoff game. 

"The team inquired about using the Lakers locker room as a space for the Clippers owner. The Lakers gracefully granted use."

He continued, "People are trying to make something out of this, as if the Clippers are pissing off the Lakers by using their locker room. That's not true at all. We'd never use the Lakers space without asking the team."

0421-lakers-locker-room-TWITTER-01

Texans Cheerleading Team

You Like Twins?

Well, We Got Em!

4/21/2015 11:36 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0421_houston_texans_cheerleaders_twins_launchThe Houston Texans have somehow found a way to combine two things guys love -- football and twins -- and they've done it in the best possible way.

The Houston Texans Cheerleading Team is about to head out on location to shoot their new calendar in Puerto Rico, so naturally they snapped a few photos of the girls to get ready. 

The team did a photo shoot of the 13 girls chosen for the 12 months, with one lucky month getting extra attention in the form of a pair of redheads who are new to the team. 

It's safe to say they made a doubly good impression.

Detroit Lions Rodney Austin

Accused of Assaulting Woman and a Baby

4/21/2015 10:01 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

0421-rodney-austin-ap-02The Detroit Lions cut offensive lineman Rodney Austin on the heels of his arrest for assaulting a woman and a baby.

According to the police report ... Austin shoved Yvonne Gill-Sadler on April 5th around 2 AM during a dispute in her Charlotte, NC apartment -- and when she went down she was holding a female infant ... less than a year old.

The report also says Austin prevented Gill-Sadler from calling 911 by stealing her phone. The baby and Gill-Sadler were uninjured ... according to cops. 

Austin was arrested on April 17 and booked for assault, larceny, child abuse and interfering with emergency communication. 

Austin, a backup player for the Lions ... was cut from the team Tuesday morning. 

Wladimir Klitschko, Hayden Panettiere

Someone's in Trouble

4/21/2015 9:41 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0421_wladimir_klitschko_baby_beach_water_waves_launch_2Wladimir Klitschko may be the heavyweight champion of the world, but he's about to get his ass kicked by his 5' fiancee.

Wlad took baby Kaya out into the Miami beach surf, while Hayden Panettiere was doing 'GMA' in NYC.

It looks like fun and games, but we're guessing Hayden will have issues:

-- the baby doesn't have a life jacket

-- Wlad is clowning off balance in the surf, with Kaya in a precarious position

-- she's not wearing a hat in the Miami sun

That said, dad is no ordinary father at 6'6" and 246 lbs. Kaya's in good hands. Of course, Hayden might not see it that way. 

Good luck Wlad ... we're rooting for you!. 

0421-hayden-panettiere-getty

Tim Tebow

God's An Eagles Fan

...Say Philly Pastors

4/21/2015 9:11 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0420-tim-tebow-cross-religion-GETTY-01Eagles fans, stock the bubbly ... 'cause a bunch of local Philadelphia pastors tell us with the signing of Tim Tebow ... the team gained a very powerful ally ... GOD!! 

TMZ Sports spoke with 5 church officials who rep 7 churches in Philly... and the sentiment was universal ... Tebow's faith -- and relationship with God -- will have a HUGE impact on the Eagles. 

Here are some of the highlights ... 

-- Rev. Bill Golderer (Broad Street Ministries) -- "Our legacy [as Eagles fans] has been over 50 years of futility. Tebow's close to God, so we wouldn't have to sell our soul to the devil to win a Super Bowl."

-- Rev. Safford (Christ Church) -- "Having a faith-based person with the Eagles can only help the team."

-- Pastor Kent Jacobs (Epic Church) -- "We love Tim. He's awesome! Everyone needs people to encourage them and he's that type of guy. So he'll help the locker room."

One church official says his congregation is PUMPED too -- "I got a call last night. I thought a parish member was in the hospital, but it was just someone telling me we signed Tebow."

UFC's Michael Bisping

Hey, Wanderlei Silva ...

Oral Me!

4/21/2015 8:21 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

UFC stud Michael Bisping wants to have a Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky relationship with Wanderlei SIlva -- and yesterday, he formally invited his former rival to play the role of Monica.

Bisping was out in L.A. promoting his fight with C.B. Dollaway at UFC 186 ... when we brought up his old nemesis Silva -- who was banned from the UFC for life for ducking drug tests.

First, he called Silva a moron.

Then he called him another word for wiener.

And for his finale, he invited Mr. Silva to 3rd base. 

Enjoy. 

Candace Cameron on Jarret Stoll:

'Anyone Who Does Drugs Is Dumb'

4/21/2015 7:24 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

On a very special episode of "Full House" ... D.J. warns against the dangers of hard drugs! 

Candace Cameron-Bure -- who's married to ex-NHL star Valeri Bure -- was out in L.A. with her hockey-fan family Monday when we asked about Jarret Stoll's Vegas drug arrest

"I think anyone that does drugs is dumb," Cameron-Bure said ... "but that's the chance you take when you do that stuff." 

Danny Tanner would be proud ... 

Cue lesson-giving music ... fade to black ... roll credits. 

Warren Sapp's Escorts

He Tackled Us

... After Naked Altercation

4/21/2015 6:33 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

The two escorts in Warren Sapp's hotel room told police ... it wasn't just a big 'ol naked dance party -- Warren was aggressive and violent ... and TACKLED the girls when they tried to leave. 

TMZ Sports obtained footage of the two escorts -- Britney Osbourne and Quying Boyd -- speaking with police moments after cops arrived to Sapp's hotel in Phoenix on Feb. 2nd. 

0306-boyd-osbourne-mugshots-2

Both women told cops they tried to leave the hotel room after a dispute over money -- but Sapp flipped out ... with Boyd saying, "He tackled us together. That's why my leg hurts."

Sapp denied "laying a hand" on either woman -- though he does acknowledge there was a dispute. 

Warren was later charged with two counts of assault and one count of soliciting prostitution. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail.

Erin Andrews

Did She Just Take a Shot

... at Jarret Stoll?!

4/21/2015 6:05 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Erin Andrews may have sent a passive aggressive message to her NHL star boyfriend Monday night -- seemingly chiding him for his Vegas drug arrest ... and it all went down on "Dancing with the Stars."

Erin was interviewing Willow Shields after her wild performance -- and asked her if she ever busted out similar moves on Spring Break. 

When Willow gave her super boring answer -- "I just sit at home and watch movies all week" -- Andrews gave a very interesting response:

"I feel like some other people should learn from you."

Paying attention Jarret Stoll?  

Jarret Stoll

Partying with Kings Teammates

... During Vegas Drug Arrest

4/21/2015 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0420_jarrett_stoll_la_gettyJarret Stoll had been raging in Vegas with several of his L.A. Kings teammates in the hours before the NHL star was busted for trying to bring a BUNCH of cocaine and molly to a pool party ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

Multiple sources confirm ... the Vegas vacation was essentially an unofficial end-of-the-season celebration to unwind and party as a team.

As far as how many Kings were part of the festivities -- sources tell us there were more than a dozen people from the organization on hand ... many of whom continued to party in Vegas throughout the weekend even AFTER Stoll was arrested. 

We know Drew Doughty and Martin Jones were part of the Vegas crew -- but they were NOT arrested or accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever. In fact, the only person who got into any trouble was Stoll

We reached out to the players and the Kings organization -- but no one wanted to comment on this specific story. 

0421_jarret_stoll_on_ice_footer

Lindsey Vonn vs. Elin Nordegren

Who'd You Rather?

4/21/2015 8:19 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0421-lindsay-vonn-elin-nordegren-getty-splashHere's Lindsey Vonn, Olympic gold medal skier and girlfriend of Tiger Woods, appearing Monday on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" -- and Tiger's ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, seen a few years back strolling on Miami Beach.

The question is ...

Gary Payton Sued

Accused of Battering Woman

Payton Alleges Shakedown

4/20/2015 5:32 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0420_gary-payton_TMZGary Payton is being sued by a woman who claims the NBA legend beat her up over and over again during a quick getaway to Seattle ... though Payton denies the whole thing and says it's nothing more than a shameless cash grab. 

TMZ Sports has obtained the lawsuit filed by Trishtan Williams -- who claims Payton invited her as his date to an awards function in Seattle back in January ... but after the ceremony, things got violent. 

According to the suit, Gary and Trishtan went to a local bar -- where she claims Payton shoved her over something she said. Williams did not say exactly what set Payton off. 

Eventually, Williams claims they got in a car to leave together and he assaulted her again. 

Williams says Payton struck her a third time when they got back to their hotel room. 

Now, she's lawyered up with Gloria Allred -- and is seeking a ton of money.

We spoke with Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, who claims the whole thing is nothing more than a shakedown in an effort to get Gary to cut a fat check.

Goodwin also says Williams has changed her story several times -- and has "no physical evidence to substantiate these claims."

"Unfortunately, with the climate of claims against athletes for monetary gains, Mr. Payton is just another victim and will fight this frivolous lawsuit."

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