Gervonta Davis Honors Kobe With Shorts & Shoes ... At Staples Center Fight

Gervonta Davis paid huge respect to Kobe Bryant during his fight at Staples Center on Sunday ... rockin' some Mamba-themed shorts and shoes for the big tilt with Isaac Cruz.

Davis entered the "House That Kobe Built" decked out in Lakers colors ... and stitched Kobe's famous #24 and #8 on his shorts.

Davis also sported some Kobe-inspired shoes for the match ... with his kicks resembling the Black Mamba's famous "Grinches."

And, after Gervonta beat Cruz by unanimous decision, he shouted out the NBA legend as well.

"L.A. we did it, baby!" Tank told the packed crowd, which included Magic Johnson, Kawhi Leonard and Dwight Howard. "Home of Kobe!"

It's fitting that Davis honored Bryant on the night ... considering he needed every bit of the Mamba Mentality to get through his bout with Cruz.

Fighting in the place of Rolando Romero, Cruz took it to Davis -- who had to battle through a hand injury to score the win.

Unclear who's up next for Tank ... but Ryan Garcia -- who's also been very vocal about his affinity for Kobe -- is the fight we'd all certainly like to see soon.

Raiders' Josh Jacobs Pays Tribute To Virgil Abloh With Off-White Cleats

Josh Jacobs hit the field in style on Sunday ... the Las Vegas Raiders running back rocked cleats honoring the late, great Virgil Abloh, who recently passed away at the age of 41.

The NFL allowed players to wear custom cleats in Week 13 to raise awareness and money for causes close to the players' hearts ... so Jacobs decided to honor the former artistic director of Louis Vuitton and Off-White founder.

As you can see, the cleat design was pretty dope. They were yellow and blue and featured the words "RIP Virgil" with Virgil's patented "Off-White" trademark.

Virgil -- who was loved by many in the entertainment industry -- passed away in late November after privately battling cancer for years ... and it's clear that his death reverberated in both the fashion and sports world.

We've seen athletes in the NBA -- like Miami's P.J. Tucker -- show respect by wearing a pair of Off-White Jordan 5s with a special tribute on them.

Jacobs appears to be the first NFL player to wear cleats honoring the fashion icon.

As for the game, Jacobs -- who rushed 13 times for 52 yards -- and the Raiders didn't fare too well ... Vegas lost on a late field goal, 17-15 to the WFT.

Bob Dole Former U.S Senator Dead at 98

Bob Dole -- one of the most enduring U.S. political figures -- has died, 10 months after revealing he was battling lung cancer.

The Republican stalwart from Kansas passed in his sleep early Sunday morning, according to his wife, Elizabeth Dole. Her foundation released a statement on his death, highlighting his 79 years of political service.

Dole was not only a U.S. Senator from Kansas, but also a decorated Army veteran, a U.S. Representative and a candidate for Vice President, and later, President.

In February, Dole announced he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He said, “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.”

Dole enlisted in the Army in 1942 to serve in World War II. It was during a battle in Italy that he was severely injured under enemy fire -- his right arm, collarbone and spine were all damaged, and he was eventually transferred to a hospital back in Kansas.

Although he beat the odds to survive a long list of injuries, Dole never regained full mobility of his right arm and suffered numbness in his left. He earned 2 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service.

He won his first national political election in 1951 when he ran for the House of Representatives -- and became a U.S. Senator in 1969. He would remain in the Senate until 1996 when he resigned.

Dole ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988, losing to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

It might seem shocking in today's era of bitter bipartisanship, but after the Republican icon retired ... President Bill Clinton presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dole received the honor in January 1997 for his distinguished service in the military and in American politics.

Meagan Good I Want Gun For Protection ... L.A. Crime Rise Scares Me

STAY STRAPPED
Tha God's Honest Truth

Meagan Good wants to become a gun owner ... and while she says she didn't always feel that way, the recent rise of home invasions in Los Angeles changed her mind.

Meagan explained her change of heart in tonight's interview with Charlamagne Tha God on his Comedy Central show "Tha God's Honest Truth" ... saying she would feel more comfortable with a gun after seeing home invasions on the rise in Hollywood.

The actress says she used to think she didn't need a gun at home because there wouldn't be time to grab the weapon if a situation arose ... but now she says she wants to be able to at least have the option.

While Meagan says she doesn't want to shoot or kill any potential home invaders ... she says she is willing to defend herself with a gun.

Meagan's fears are real.

TMZ broke the story ... Clarence Avant's wife, Jackie, was shot and killed inside the couple's Beverly Hills home Wednesday morning after at least one suspect made it inside during a home invasion robbery.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA
LAPD

These cases are part of an alarming trend ... in the days before Halloween, Dorit Kemsley had 3 men (shown above) storm into her bedroom to threaten her life before fleeing with six-figures worth of valuables.

It's evening happening outside of homes ... Terrence J told cops last month he was pulling into his driveway when another car pulled up and the men inside ordered him out of his car, firing shots and giving chase when he refused their commands and drove off.

Bottom line for Meagan ... she's embracing the 2nd Amendment.

Meagan's full interview airs tonight on Comedy Central, and you can tune in to Charlamagne's show Fridays at 10 PM.

Michigan Football Honor Tate Myre, Oxford Victims ... With Jersey Patch

12:32 PM PT -- The Detroit Lions will also honor Myre and the other victims of the tragic shooting ... with head coach Dan Campbell revealing the team will wear t-shirts, hats and a helmet decal during their Sunday game vs. the Minnesota Vikings.

Oxford High football player Tate Myre -- who died heroically attempting to stop the tragic school shooting -- will be remembered when #2 Michigan takes the field in the Big Ten Championship this weekend ... with the team wearing a jersey patch in his honor.

Michigan made the announcement on Thursday ... saying, "Our uniforms will feature a special logo during Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game."

Myre's initials and jersey number will be featured on the patch ... as well as a heart for each of the four victims of the tragedy.

"The shape is of Oxford's 'Block O', meant to honor all victims, survivors, and community members," the team added.

"I was told that everybody in that school was running one way, and Tate was running the other way," Myre's football and wrestling coach Ross Wingert told the Detroit Free Press.

"I know Tate chose to do what he thought was right and he made the ultimate sacrifice."

The 16-year-old had interest in playing at the next level -- just days before the tragedy, Myre was at the University of Toledo football game as a potential recruit.

There's currently a petition to rename the Oxford football stadium in his name, which has reached over 202,000 signatures.

A RISING STAR
Oxford HS / hudl

"We are proud to represent that state of Michigan and all of its communities," the team said.

Oxford H.S. is an hour north of UM. The Wolverines will face #15 Iowa in Indianapolis on Saturday for the Big Ten title.

Originally Published -- 7:27 AM PT

'America's Got Talent' Rocker Jay Jay Phillips Dead at 30 from COVID-19

"America's Got Talent" standout Jay Jay Phillips -- whose big hair gained as much attention as his talent -- has died from complications related to COVID-19.

A family member tells us Jay Jay was battling the disease at home Thanksgiving week. We're told family and friends were continuously checking in with him over the phone, and he took a turn for the worse the day before the holiday.

Jay Jay's family urged him to go to the hospital, but he just told them he needed more sleep ... and that was the last time they heard from him.

We're told Jay Jay's girlfriend and her mom -- who is a nurse -- went to check on him Thanksgiving Day and found him dead. The family member tells us Phillips was not vaccinated, but just before he got sick had started to tell people he planned on getting the shot soon.

Phillips' dad, who he lived with, is currently hospitalized and fighting for his life on a ventilator.

Jay Jay first made an appearance on season 4 of the talent competition, but was eliminated early. He came back during season 12, but was eliminated in the judge cuts just before the quarterfinals.

Phillips was 30.

RIP

Alec Baldwin Explains How Gun Went Off Without Pulling Trigger ... If I Felt Responsible, I May Have Killed Myself

I AIMED AS DIRECTED
ABC News

Alec Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger on the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and followed her instructions to point the gun at her, not knowing there was live ammunition in the chamber.

Baldwin says he pointed the gun at her as directed ... cocked it and let go of the hammer and that's when the gun went off. He says he never touched the trigger. Assistant Director Dave Halls backed Baldwin up and says Baldwin never had his finger on the trigger.

Baldwin says the only issue for him is how live ammunition got into the chamber of the gun. He says he was told it was an "empty gun" -- meaning only dummy bullets.

When the gun fired and Halyna fell to the ground, Baldwin says he didn't know for 45 minutes to an hour she was hit by a live round. He thought maybe Halyna got hit by wadding typically found in blanks.

Baldwin felt people waited too long to get her to a hospital. A helicopter finally came and took her to a hospital.

The Sheriff eventually told Baldwin Halyna had died. The photos of Baldwin outside on the phone are when he called his wife to tell her what happened.

Baldwin says George Clooney didn't help the situation by commenting that he always checked a gun that he handled on set. Baldwin was clearly annoyed at Clooney. He says he's always relied on the experts -- like the armorer -- on the set that a gun was safe to handle.

Baldwin does not believe the live ammo on the set was an act of sabotage ... something claimed by the lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. He says this was an accident.

Baldwin says he hates that Reed and Halls have been villainized unfairly, he believes.

He also doesn't discount his brother Daniel -- who told TMZ he believed Baldwin was targeted for his political beliefs. He mentions Donald Trump, who went after Baldwin.

Baldwin said he was not a nuts-and-bolts producer who made hiring decisions ... rather, he says he was a "creative producer" -- meaning his role was more about content. This is significant ... given the allegations, Reed was way too inexperienced to be an armorer and Halls had safety issues on previous sets.

He says he was never told by the crew they had safety concerns ... he says the complaints were along the lines of grousing they wanted better hotels.

Baldwin says he's having recurring nightmares and is not sure he wants to make movies anymore. He says it's the worst thing that's ever happened to him. He says he feels sadness and anger, but not guilt. He says if he felt he was responsible he might have killed himself.

Billy Dee Williams Mourns Murder of Jacqueline Avant ... What's Going On in America???

IT'S A DARK WORLD
TMZ.com

Billy Dee Williams thinks America is in one of its darkest periods ever ... referencing the latest act of violence against his dear friends.

We got Billy Dee Thursday in WeHo and asked about the murder this week of Jacqueline Avant, wife of music legend Clarence Avant.

Billy Dee is clearly upset, saying, "There's a dark energy that's permeating our lives right now.  I call it Lucifer."

The legendary actor seems to think this is a tipping point, wondering what's going on in America with all the violence and insanity?"

Billy Dee is fatalistic about his own safety in a city -- Los Angeles -- that is becoming treacherous on so many levels.

TMZ broke the story ... a home invader broke into the Avant's home and shot and killed Jacqueline. The suspect was taken into custody after another failed break-in attempt where he shot himself in the foot.

Clarence Avant Suspect Arrested In Wife's Murder

12:48 PM PT -- Police say the suspect is 29-year-old Aariel Maynor, and he was captured partly because he literally shot himself in the foot.

Cops say several surveillance cameras captured Maynor's vehicle fleeing eastbound from Beverly Hills Wednesday morning after Jacqueline was shot. About an hour later, a shooting was reported in the Hollywood Hills, near the Griffith Observatory.

LAPD responded and found Maynor in a backyard suffering from a gunshot wound in his foot -- and determined he'd shot himself while allegedly burglarizing that home. LAPD took him into custody, but Beverly Hills PD says its detectives collected evidence connecting Maynor to the home invasion of the Avant's home.

THE THREAT IS OVER
TMZ.com

BHPD says Maynor is the sole suspect in Jacqueline's death, and he was armed with an AR-15 during the break-in. We've learned he has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2013, and has done time for robbery and grand theft. He also got probation for a domestic violence case.

A suspect has been taken into custody in the shooting death of music legend Clarence Avant's wife, Jacqueline ... TMZ has learned.

Family sources with direct knowledge tell us a man has been arrested in connection to the murder.

TMZ broke the story, 81-year-old Jackie was shot and killed inside the couple's Trousdale Estates home in Beverly Hills Wednesday morning. At the time, we were told at least one suspect made it into the home. A smashed glass door appeared to be the point of entry.

What's more ... a private security guard for the Avant's was on duty, and was shot at, but was not struck and did not return fire. It's not known if the guard was armed.

Clarence was not injured during the attack..

During a press conference Wednesday, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook shared a message from the family, but wouldn't share details on the investigation or who was involved.

Among tributes to Jacqueline was one from former President Bill Clinton, who said, "Jackie Avant was a wonderful woman, a great partner to Clarence and mother to Alex and Nicole, an active citizen & a dear friend to Hillary and me for 30 years. She inspired admiration, respect & affection in everyone who knew her. We are heartbroken. She will be deeply missed."

RECAPPING THE INCIDENT
TMZ.com

Originally Published -- 11:31 AM PT

Eddie Mekka Carmine from 'Laverne & Shirley' Dead at 69

Eddie Mekka, who most famously played Carmine, the "Big Ragu," on "Laverne & Shirley" has died ... TMZ has learned.

Eddie's brother, Warren Mekjian, tells TMZ ... Eddie was found dead at his home in Newhall, CA on Saturday. We're told friends and neighbors became concerned when they hadn't heard from him in a few days and called cops to go over and check on him.

Warren tells us Eddie had recently been hospitalized for blood clots and could barely walk ... there's no indication his death was suspicious or that there was any foul play involved.

Eddie played Carmine Ragusa -- Shirley's boyfriend on the show from 1976-1983. Carmine would regularly sing on the show. Eddie also had a role on one of "Laverne & Shirley" producer Garry Marshall's other shows, "Blansky's Beauties" -- and he'd been nominated for a Tony Award for his role in "The Lieutenant" ... prior to his TV career taking off.

Like a lot of 70s and 80s TV stars, Eddie also had guest roles on "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat" ... and later he was on the ABC hit, "Family Matters."

Eddie has one daughter, Mia, with Yvonne Marie Grace who he married in 1994.

He was 69.

RIP

Alec Baldwin 'Rust' AD Backs Up Claim ... He Didn't Pull the Trigger

RELIVING THE TRAGEDY
ABC News

The lawyer for the assistant director on "Rust" is backing Alec Baldwin's claim he did not pull the trigger on the gun that caused the death of Halyna Hutchins.

Lisa Torraco appeared on "Good Morning America" Thursday and actually went a step further, saying her client told her from day 1 not only did Baldwin not pull the trigger, he didn't even have his finger on the trigger.

Torraco said, “...that the entire time Baldwin had his finger outside the trigger guard, parallel to the barrel, and that he told me since day one he thought it was a misfire. I know, and until Alec said that, it was just really hard to believe, but Dave has told me since the very first day I met him that Alec did not pull that trigger.”

For starters, the word "misfire" is being used improperly. A misfire is when you pull the trigger and nothing happens because there's something wrong with the ammo.

The core issue, however -- can a gun discharge a bullet when someone does not pull the trigger? Weapons expert Steve Wolf tells TMZ, yes, if someone drops a loaded gun the inertia of the trigger hitting the ground could cause enough movement for the gun to discharge.

THE TRIGGER WAS PULLED
TMZ.com

But, Wolf is clear ... if someone is holding a gun, he says it will not fire without the user pulling the trigger. He says some of these weapons have "very light trigger action" ... meaning a gentle tap could cause a discharge. But, he says there can't be a discharge without some trigger movement.

Baldwin's interview with George Stephanopoulos airs Thursday night at 8 PM ET.  Stephanopoulos says it's the most intense interview he's ever done.

Jonshel Alexander 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Star Killed In New Orleans Shooting

Jonshel Alexander, the former child actor who co-starred in the Oscar-nominated film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” is dead after a shooting in her native Louisiana.

Jonshel -- who was 12 when she got the role in the 2012 film -- was sitting in a vehicle with a man last Saturday in New Orleans when someone opened fire on them. Jonshel was pronounced dead on the scene, her friend survived and went to a hospital for treatment.

Police have released a photo of a person of interest -- a Black male wearing a ski mask -- and are asking the public for help identifying and locating him.

Jonshel played Joy Strong in 'Beasts' ... a drama filmed in Louisiana about a struggling bayou community, which also had then-6-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis in the lead role. The movie got 4 Oscar noms, including Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Director Benh Zeitlin has said he pretty much created the role of Joy specifically for Jonshel. As he put it, “A lot of the lines were written by her, and so much of the character grew out of who Jonshel was. Her character in the film is named Joy Strong, which always seemed like a perfect description of Jonshel. She was a really bright burning light.”

'Beasts' was her only acting role. After graduating high school, Jonshel worked as a hostess in restaurants and had a daughter ... according to the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate.

Jonshel was 22.

RIP

Clarence & Jacqueline Avant Neighbors Hiring Armed Security In Wake of Tragic Murder

Neighbors of Clarence and Jacqueline Avant have been alarmed by the crime wave in Beverly Hills and L.A. ... so much so they hired armed guards before Wednesday's fatal home invasion.

Residents in Trousdale Estate tell us just last week a bunch of neighbors got together and hired a private security firm. Law enforcement tells us there has been a spike in home and vehicle burglaries in Trousdale ... and it's got residents scared stiff.

Our source tells us the neighbors pooled cash and hired the security company ... problem is, the guards hadn't started patrols yet.

Some residents are so concerned after Wednesday's home invasion ... they've individually hired armed guards. And, on top of that, sources at the Beverly Hills PD tell us they will be measurably increasing patrols in the area. The PD has also hired a private security company to make sure the area is adequately covered.

Our BHPD sources tell us as far as they can see there is no connection to the smash-and-grab robberies in Beverly Hills and L.A. Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue were both hit recently in Bev Hills.

TMZ broke the story, Avant was killed in her home early Wednesday morning. We know at least one suspect made their way into the home where Jackie was shot in the stomach ... she was awake and alert when paramedics arrived, but later died at the hospital.

RECAPPING THE INCIDENT
TMZ.com

The motive of the attack is not yet known, and there have not been any arrests made in the case.

Billy Porter Virgil Did A Lot for Fashion ... Diversity and Otherwise

VIRGIL'S VISION
TMZ.com

Virgil Abloh was a game-changer in the fashion world, but not only for his designs -- he was also committed to bringing diversity to the industry ... according to Billy Porter.

BP was at Dulles Int'l Airport Tuesday when we got his thoughts on Virgil's passing ... which rocked the fashion world and beyond. Like mostly everyone else who got the sad and sudden news, Billy was equally shocked.

We asked Billy what Virgil meant to the culture, and he told us there's a big shift right now in the fashion industry toward more diversity and inclusion -- and he's giving Virgil big props for sparking it.

HONORING VIRGIL

Seeing how Virgil was the first Black man in history tapped to head up Louis Vuitton's menswear line, it goes without saying he did so much in that regard ... and Billy emphasizes that here.

BTW, Billy had just touched down from overseas, where it sounds like he attended a fashion award show -- and it seems folks there were just as somber about Virgil's passing as here in the States.

LV honored Virgil Tuesday by trotting out his new line during a show in Miami ... with Kanye, Kim and several other stars in attendance.

Music Legend Clarence Avant Wife Jacqueline Shot and Killed During Home Invasion Robbery

2:21 PM PT -- Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook just held a press conference, and while he shared a touching message from the Avant family, there wasn't much else new in terms of the case. Stainbrook said he couldn't yet speculate on how many suspects were involved or if they knew the Avant family. He did, however, say it didn't appear to be a random attack ... but he wouldn't go any further.

RECAPPING THE INCIDENT
TMZ.com

1:42 PM PT -- Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Jacqueline was shot in the stomach, but was alert and speaking when paramedics arrived at the house, and we're told the family was shocked she didn't pull through.

Beverly Hills PD is about to update us on the case with a news conference at 2 PM PT, and we'll be live streaming.

9:44 AM PT -- Law enforcement sources tell us there was security at the home, the security guard was shot at as well, but did not return fire. We're told Clarence was not injured.

9:20 AM PT -- At least one suspect, the shooter, had gotten inside the Avants' home when he opened fire at Jacqueline ... according to sources connected to the investigation. It's unclear how many suspects were involved.

An image of the home shows a smashed sliding glass door ... so it appears that's how the suspects got inside.

Clarence Avant, a legendary music exec who was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a tragedy at home Tuesday night ... a home invasion where his wife of 54 years -- Jacqueline Avant -- was shot and killed ... TMZ has learned.

It happened in the Trousdale Estates ... a high-end area neighboring Beverly Hills. Law enforcement tells TMZ, Beverly Hills PD got a call at 2:30 AM for a home invasion. The caller told the dispatcher someone had been shot. By the time they arrived, Jackie had already been rushed to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

A family source tells us the people who broke into the house fired shots and hit Jackie. Clarence was home at the time. We do not know if he was hurt.

Jackie and Clarence's daughter is Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.

Clarence is known as the Godfather of Black Music. He's been regularly celebrated by the likes of Jay-Z and Diddy, L.A. Reid and Babyface. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in October.

Jackie served as the President of the Neighbors of Watts, a support group that focused on child care. She was also on the Board of Directors of UCLA's International Student Center.

Jacqueline was 81.

RIP

Originally Published -- 7:16 AM PT

Oxford H.S. Shooting Star Football Player Killed ... Tried Disarming Gunman

2:52 PM PT -- Oxford H.S. head coach and former NFLer Zach Line is grieving the loss ... saying, "Tate was and will always be a beaming light for Oxford."

"It’s hard to put into words what he meant to me, but he will hold a special place in my heart forever. God reaches down and touches certain people, he was one of those people. I love you FOUR TWO."

Tate Myre -- a star junior for the Oxford Wildcats football team -- died trying to disarm the gunman during the tragic school shooting on Tuesday ... and now, the running back's peers want to honor his legacy by renaming the stadium after him.

A 15-year-old was taken into custody after 3 students were killed and 8 others were injured in the 5-minute attack ... with witnesses claiming the athlete tried to subdue the shooter.

16-year-old Myre was shot in the confrontation and was rushed by a deputy to a local hospital. Unfortunately, Myre succumbed to his injuries in the police car.

Myre's classmates have been posting about their grief ... sharing memorable stories about Tate. One person even launched a Change.org petition, calling on the school to rename Wildcats Stadium in his honor -- it currently has more than 55,000 signatures.

Myre was a standout athlete for the Wildcats -- he was interested in playing for schools like Michigan State, Texas, Notre Dame, USC, Texas A&M and more.

In his recruitment bio, Myre had goals of playing at the next level.

A RISING STAR
Oxford HS / hudl

"I have been in love with football since I was young and always dreamed of playing college football," he said in his profile. "If I play college football I will be the hardest worker on the field and no matter the situation in the game I will give all my effort."

Myre appeared to be on his way to making that dream a reality -- he recently visited the University of Toledo on a recruitment trip.

Originally Published -- 10:31 AM PT

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