Antonio Brown Praises 'Close Friend' Tom Brady Making Me Better Person

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I'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM HIM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Brown is opening up on his bromance with Tom Brady ... praising the QB for not only helping him be great on the field -- but off it as well.

AB made his official return to the practice field with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday ... and spoke at length with reporters about his relationship with TB12.

"Tom is my boy," Brown -- sporting a TB12 hat -- said after practice. "One of the greatest leaders to be around. He’s encouraging, always inspiring. He brings out the best out of people around him. He wants the best for everyone around him."

As we previously reported ... Brady invited AB to live with him in Derek Jeter's mansion after inking his one-year deal earlier this week ... and even got him in touch with Tony Robbins.

While Brady inviting AB to live with him could be considered questionable to some -- given his rape and sexual misconduct allegations (which Brown denies) -- the receiver makes it clear the mansion is a judgment-free zone.

"Nothing that I’ve done in the past matters," AB added. "He’s always getting better, day in and day out. And I just learn a lot from him -- how he trains, how he takes care of himself professionally, his discipline, his work ethic, his approach."

"He’s been a great guy in my corner, and one of my close friends."

Reds' Trevor Bauer MLB Banned My 'Free Joe Kelly' Cleats ... 'Fun Is Bad'

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BACKED BY BAUER

5:57 AM PT -- Bauer claims MLB officials put a stop to his cleat plans almost immediately after he unveiled the kicks ... and the Reds ace was NOT happy about it.

The 29-year-old says the league threatened to eject him if he took the mound in the spikes ... and claims MLB even told him it might suspend him and/or levy "unprecedented fines."

Bauer says it's really unfair -- given MLB has a relaxed cleat policy for the 2020 shortened season -- and he went after commish Rob Manfred over it all late Wednesday night.

"Apparently, Rob is not a fan of players following his rules, as 'Free Joe Kelly' is not political and is very clearly said in jest," Bauer said.

"Just leaves me over here wondering how following the rules = ejection/suspension/fine and cheating your way to a World Series = no ejection/suspension/fine...y’all really know how to pick your battles..."

Trevor added, "learned my lesson though. Fun is bad, cheating is good. Won’t make the same mistake twice, can promise you that."

The cleat controversy clearly didn't bother Bauer's pitching arm ... even though he ultimately sported generic black Nikes on the bump vs. the Royals, he threw a 1-hit complete game with 9 strikeouts!!

Reds star Trevor Bauer is taking his support for Joe Kelly to his feet ... rockin' "Free Joe Kelly" cleats for Cincy's game Wednesday -- and the tribute is pretty amazing!!

As we previously reported, Kelly is set to undergo a 5-game suspension as soon as he comes off the Dodgers' injured list ... and it's all because MLB says he threw at cheating Houston Astros players last month.

BAD BLOOD
MLB

But, dozens of guys in The Show -- including Kelly himself -- think it's all BS ... saying Joe didn't actually hit anybody, and he really wasn't involved in the near brawl on the field either.

Enter, Bauer ... who hates the Astros so much and is so firmly in Kelly's corner on the situation -- he had custom Joe Kelly cleats made for his start against the K.C. Royals!!!

TB showed off the footwear just hours before he took the bump ... and on the left shoe, Bauer had Kelly's infamous mocking face painted over the Nike swoosh.

On the right shoe, Bauer had the words "Free Joe Kelly" scribbled over the emblem.

"FREE JOE KELLY!" Bauer said along with the cleat announcement.

Trevor's support for Joe went one step even further ... the Cincy ace also made shirts for Kelly -- and says the proceeds from the tees will go to a charity of Joe's choice.

How's that for a pitching brotherhood?!?!

Originally Published -- 8/19 1:35 PM PT

Andrew Yang I Bonded with Kamala Right Away ... She Didn't Big Time Me!!!

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GOLDEN TICKET
TMZ.com

Andrew Yang is a big fan of Sen. Kamala Harris as a candidate, but more importantly, as a person ... and says they bonded early, when he was a political unknown.

The former presidential candidate joined us on "TMZ Live" Wednesday and heaped tons of praise on Joe Biden's running mate, telling us what separated Kamala from the pack.

Andrew says he first met Kamala early on in the Democratic primaries and they forged an instant bond on a number of non-political issues they have in common.

He added ... there was something else about the VP candidate that really impressed him. Andrew says Kamala was always warm and friendly, which stood out to him because no one knew who the hell he was early in the Democratic primary races.

Andrew says that taught him a lot about his then-opponent's character, which is why he thinks Kamala makes a great veep.

Andrew's ready to go to bat for Biden and Harris at next week's Democratic National Convention, and broke some news about the event.

On Tuesday, he tweeted his disappointment about not getting an invitation to speak -- but he told us he WILL have a role at the DNC, and took some parting shots at President Trump.

Kanye West Leaves Ranch with Damon Dash ... Just for a Walmart Run

Kanye West has a steady stream of close friends showing up in Wyoming -- the latest being Damon Dash, who he took for an essential items shopping trip.

It appears Dame arrived at Ranch West sometime Wednesday, and the duo hit up the Walmart in nearby Cody ... wearing face masks to enter, as required.

The hip-hop superstars weren't exactly trying to stay incognito -- once outside they removed their masks and sat on a bench for a bit talking.

Of course, these 2 go way back to their Roc-A-Fella Records days, and it seems Dame flew in to check on Ye ... on the heels of his Monday and Tuesday night Twitter attacks against his wife and mother-in-law.

Dash posted a pic of Kanye, himself and a few others touring the ranch grounds with the caption, "We good."

Remember, on Tuesday morning it was Dave Chappelle who dropped in at the ranch and certainly seemed to lift Yeezy's spirits ... at least for a while.

CHECKIN' ON YE

Kanye is reportedly working on new music while he's in Wyoming, so it's possible Dame came by for that too -- but we know family and friends have been concerned about his mental health since the Sunday rally in South Carolina.

Kim Kardashian's made it clear her husband is in the grips of a bipolar episode and adds, "Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions."

With Dave, and now Dame, jetting into Wyoming ... Kanye's friends are doing their best to rally around him.

Vanessa Bryant Emotional Bday Note To Pau Gasol ... Kobe Would've Said 'Love You!!!'

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Vanessa Bryant wished the happiest of birthdays to Pau Gasol on Monday ... penning an emotional note to Kobe's ex-teammate and good friend that'll bring a tear to your eye.

Vanessa shared adorable pics of the 7-foot NBA legend with her daughters ... writing, "Happy 40th birthday uncle Pau! We ❤️you. Love, The Bryant Girls."

The photos of Gasol with the Bryant sisters were heartwarming ... they showed off Pau sweetly hanging with Kobe's family.

Vanessa added in her birthday message to the former Lakers center, "I know Kobe would say, 'Happy 40th birthday Pablo! Love you, Hermano'. ❤️"

Of course, Kobe and Pau built a hell of a relationship after they joined forces in L.A. back in the 2007-08 season ... they won 2 championships together and became lifelong friends.

In fact, since Kobe and his daughter, Gigi, tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in January ... Pau's often been involved with Kobe's family in some way.

Pau sent Vanessa a "Gigi" cake on what would have been her 14th birthday back in May, and has dedicated several social media posts to the Mamba and the Mambacita.

In one of the messages, just hours after learning of Kobe's death ... Pau wrote, "I will be heartbroken for a long time, but I will forever be thankful for having had shared so much together."

"You inspired me and pushed me to be a better version of myself everyday."

UFC's Gilbert Burns Calls Out Friend Kamaru Usman ... I Deserve Title Shot!!!

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GIVE ME A TITLE SHOT
TMZSports.com

IT'S NOT SHOW FRIENDS, IT'S SHOW BUSINESS!!

That's how UFC star Gilbert Burns feels about his teammate Kamaru Usman -- telling TMZ Sports he wants to fight his pal for the title, ASAP.

Of course, 33-year-old Burns just defeated former champ Tyron Woodley on Saturday -- and he's now the #1 ranked welterweight contender.

And, since Usman is the reigning champ -- seems that fight is bound to happen.

The only issue ... Burns and Usman share a manager (Ali Abdelaziz) and train together. They're friends.

So, would you be willing to fight your buddy for a shot at the belt?

Burns says for him ... it's a no-brainer.

"I know his family. I know the guy a lot," Burns says ... "but I want to be the champion too."

"We're professionals. It's not going to be drama, I'm not gonna talk sh*t to the guy ... I just want to be the best and that's it."

Burns is currently on a 5-fight win streak -- with victories over stars like Woodley, Damien Maia and Gunnar Nelson.

Usman hasn't lost since 2013 -- most recently beating up Colby Covington at UFC 245 back in December.

Burns says money's no object -- he's reasonable -- and he's calling on Dana White to put it together.

"I'm available, I'm hungry. And I want to fight for the title next."

Stay tuned ...

Serena Williams Shuts Down Megxit Question ... 'Good Try'

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NOT TOUCHING THAT
Australian Open TV

Pro tip for all future Serena Williams interviewers ... whatever you do, do NOT ask about her friend Meghan Markle ... 'cause you WILL get shut down.

The tennis superstar faced the media after her Australian Open match on Monday ... and the first question wasn't about her win over Anastasia Potapova, it was about Megxit.

“Your good friend, Meghan Markle, who attended your last 2 slams, and Harry, have taken a move, a stance that many people think is extraordinary and historic," the reporter said.

"What are your feelings about that? Have you spoken to her?”

Kelly Rowland I've Got Beyonce's Back ... And Front ... and Feet!!!

Kelly Rowland's going full Beyonce ... with her new wardrobe.

The Destiny's Child singer showed some serious love to her BFF Thursday by going out in Brentwood covered head to toe in Bey's new Adidas x Ivy Park activewear collection.

You gotta imagine Bey hooked KR up with the collection for free ... she's been delivering HUGE care packages all week to all her celeb friends -- like Missy Elliott, Reese Witherspoon, Cardi B, Zendaya, Ellen DeGeneres, Janelle Monáe, Hailey Bieber and others -- filled to the brim with pants, socks, shoes, hoodies, jackets and workout gear.

It's practically an entire walk-in closet worth of stuff!

Browns' Jarvis Landry Calls BS On Odell Wanting Out of CLE ... 'Not Trying to Leave'

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NOT WHAT HE WANTS
Cleveland Browns

Jarvis Landry says his best friend Odell Beckham is NOT trying to bolt from the Browns, despite reports to the contrary ... telling reporters, "He's not trying to leave."

There are multiple reports claiming Odell told opposing players and coaches to "come get me" out of Cleveland ... essentially letting people know he's unhappy with the Browns and wants to get out.

Of course, Beckham didn't choose to play for Cleveland in the first place -- he was traded there by the Giants earlier this year.

Additionally, Beckham expressed frustrations with the Browns training staff -- suggesting they did not properly handle the sports hernia injury he suffered in training camp.

But, Landy -- who's been super tight with Beckham since high school -- came out strong to reporters today, saying the superstar WR is not trying to jump ship.

"He doesn't want to leave and he's not trying to leave," Landry said moments ago.

"It's not even about trying to go somewhere else," Landry added ... noting that Beckham's been a solid teammate and consummate pro during his run in Cleveland.

For his part, Odell has tweeted about the reports saying, "I NEVER said I was not happy in Cleveland, just like everyone else I’m hopeful for better results. Period. Next story plzz."

So ... still think Odell suits up in a Browns uni next season?

LeBron James Love For Kyler At Lakers Game ... Nothing For Bellinger?!?

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MAD RESPECT
NBA

Here's LeBron James going out of his way to show love to NFL star Kyler Murray at the Lakers game on Tuesday ... it's a cool moment.

But, there's another issue with this clip ... did LeBron ignore L.A. Dodgers star Cody Bellinger, who was sitting right next to the QB?!

SAY IT AIN'T SO BRON!!!

Here's the deal ... King James went over to the expensive seats at Talking Stick Resort Arena with about 25 seconds left in the 4th quarter to dap up Murray, the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

FYI, Murray and LeBron have been friends for a while -- in fact, Kyler has a deal with Bron's Uninterrupted media company ... and rocked the logo inside of his suit jacket on Draft night.

But, during the broadcast, we DIDN'T see LeBron show love to Cody ... who was sitting right next to Kyler!!!

Look, doesn't mean Bron didn't chop it up with Cody before or after the game (or maybe LBJ just didn't recognize Cody in a backward hat).

Bron definitely SHOULD know Bellinger ... he shouted out the MLB star for wearing his Lakers jersey for a Taco Tuesday-themed Halloween costume this year!

But hey, at least Cody's killin' it off the diamond ... he and his smokin' GF, Sabrina, seem to be happily in love.

Congrats on that!!

Donald Trump Jr. Colby Covington Is a Real Friend I'd Walk Him Out For Fight!!

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GREAT FIGHTER, BETTER FRIEND
TMZSports.com

Colby Covington's support for President Trump has turned into an all-out bromance with POTUS' son ... 'cause Donald Trump Jr. says he considers the UFC star a good friend!!

Of course, the Trump family has been frequenting UFC events lately -- Trump Jr. and Eric were Covington's personal guests to his fight against Robbie Lawler in Aug. ... and they both attended UFC 244 last weekend with #45 himself.

As for Colby, he's been invited to 1600 Penn ... and even snapped a pic with Trump in the Oval Office.

So, when we saw DTJ out in NYC on Tuesday, we had to ask about the UFC megafight -- and if he'd ever consider walking a fighter out to the Octagon.

"I'd go out with Colby," Trump Jr. told us ... "He's become a good friend. There's a lot of great fighters out there but Colby's become a friend."

He might get his wish soon ... Colby is set to fight Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 245 on Dec. 14 at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.

In fact, Colby put Don Jr.'s new book "Triggered" front and center at the official UFC 245 press conference last week to announce the fight. He also rocked his signature red MAGA hat.

Felicity Huffman Hanging With The Inmates ... Making Friends In Prison?!?

Felicity Huffman isn't above making new friends in prison ... she's yukking it up with her fellow inmates in the yard!!!

The "Desperate Housewives" star was spotted Wednesday at FCI Dublin in Northern California, where's she's currently serving her nearly 2-week sentence, and it's pretty interesting to see Felicity fraternizing with another convict.

As you can see, Felicity's strolling the prison yard with another inmate, chatting as they walk around in dark green jumpsuits and jackets. She's definitely not walling herself off from the rest of the prison population, even though she's rich and famous, and there for only a matter of days.

Ya gotta wonder if they're just talking TV, movies or those pesky SAT tests. Oh, to be a fly on the prison wall.

As we first told you ... husband William H. Macy and daughter Sophia paid Felicty a visit over the weekend ... but now it looks like she's got some friends on the inside.

Wendy Williams Ready to Turn Up!!! With Tamar & NeNe

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Wendy Williams is letting her inner bachelorette out of the cage ... and that means partying in Miami this Labor Day Weekend on a girls trip with Tamar Braxton and NeNe Leakes!!!

Sources close to the beloved talk show host tell TMZ ... Wendy wants to keep the party going no matter what her haters think about her because the single life is just too good right now ... which is why she's flying south to Florida to let the good times roll.

Here's what we're told Wendy has in store for her girls while they're in Miami ... a nonstop celebration packed with yacht parties and club hopping.

Our sources say it's the second time Wendy's heading down to FL since divorcing Kevin Hunter ... but this trip is all about TURNING UP!!!

NO SHAME
TMZ.com

Wendy's been a party animal of late ... living it up with Rick Ross and Meek Mill at a New York City club, plus a Cali vacation that ended with her bringing a young hunk home for fancy dinners and shopping sprees.

If it sounds like a new Wendy at age 55 ... that's because it is. We're told she feels like she did back in the day when she was single, only this time she has the means to have a better time. You get the picture, right?

Wendy's full empty-nesting -- she's kicked Kevin aside and sent their kid off to college, so it's  time to spread her wings. We're told don't be surprised if she keeps the party going until next month when her show returns.

In other words, Wendy's ending her summer with a bang!!!

Kyrie Irving Night Out With New Nets Teammates ... at L.A. Restaurant

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NETS BE FRIENDS
TMZSports.com

Kyrie Irving is getting a head start on building chemistry with his new teammates ... having a night out in L.A. with Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince ... and TMZ Sports has the vid!!!

The Brooklyn Nets trio hit up Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, Spago, in Beverly Hills on Monday night ... and everyone appeared to be in great spirits.

It should be encouraging to BK fans to see the NBA superstar hanging with his new guys, considering there were reports he wasn't getting along with his teammates in Boston ... and of course, there was a MAJOR falling out in Cleveland.

No word on who paid the bill at dinner ... but KI has a new 4-year, $141 million deal he can put to good use!!!

Cameron Boyce's BFF China Anne McClain Gets Emotional ... 'No Idea' He Had Epilepsy

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STILL DEVASTATED
TMZ.com

"Descendants 3" star China Anne McClain grew up with her costar and BFF Cameron Boyce, and says his death hit her like a ton of bricks, because almost no one knew he was suffering from epilepsy.

China was on "TMZ Live" Friday to talk about Cameron and Friday's Disney Channel debut of his final movie, 'D3.' She says the premiere comes with mixed emotions on the heels of her dear friend passing. It was obvious she's still processing the loss.

She says only Cameron's family knew about his condition, and despite the fact she knew him for 10 years -- and starred in 4 movies with him -- she had "no idea."

She broke down as she explained how the simplest things remind her of Cam and sometimes send her on a roller coaster of emotions. China says she's even caught herself picking up the phone to text Cameron.

She says she still hasn't seen "Descendants 3," and confesses she's not sure she'll be able to make it through the whole thing when she finally does watch.

As we reported ... Disney canceled a red carpet event in Cameron's honor after he died last month in his sleep. The studio also made a donation to the Thirst Project ... a nonprofit close to Cameron.

China reminded us his family's launched the Cameron Boyce Foundation.

Ted Cruz It's Easy to Work with AOC ... When We Agree, That is!!!

EXCLUSIVE
STRONGER TOGETHER
TMZ.com

Ted Cruz says his unlikely alliance with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is simply a matter of agreeing on good policy, and if that's what it takes to spark some bipartisan cooperation ... he's all for it.

We got the Texas Senator Thursday at Reagan National Airport, and he opened up about his new BFF. Okay, that's a stretch, but he and AOC are working together to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, and to make birth control available over the counter. Cruz says their teams have already hooked up to get the ball rolling.

Conservative Ted says he's got no issues working with the NY's liberal rookie Congresswoman and adds, he'll reach across the aisle for anyone -- it's all about the policy, baby.

Then Ted got a little weird ... about his beard.

We asked him if his facial hair is responsible for his apparent softer side lately, and he reveals his fellow senator, Dianne Feinstein, hates it. Doesn't seem like he's willing to work with a Democrat on a compromise in this case though ... and he has a plan to make it even worse for her.

We'd truly have to see it to believe it.

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