Matt Kemp: "For Somebody to Say That I'd Just Given Up and Wasn't Trying Is Not True."

Here the the All-Star centerfielder reflects on his poor performance in 2010 and the criticism he received for his play. He also discusses his $160 million contract extension and being denied the 2011 MVP award.
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I recently sat down with Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp at his Hollywood Hills home. The interview is for a new episode of In Depth. The All-Star centerfielder reflects on his poor performance in 2010 and the criticism he received for his play. He also discusses his $160 million contract extension and being denied the 2011 MVP award. Kemp speaks about his first love, basketball, and how the paparazzi hounded him over his recent love, music superstar Rihanna.


Matt Kemp tells that he could beat new Dodger owner and NBA legend Magic Johnson in basketball: "I can beat him in basketball. Right now, I can beat him in basketball.... He knows I can beat him in basketball... I heard he still has a great shot, but I have a great shot, too." Watch clip:

Matt Kemp reveals that the 2010 season was a tough and frustrating year for him and the Dodgers as the team was losing and Kemp was not playing well. He addresses how it felt to be booed by the hometown fans: "That probably hurt the most out of anything, and of course, I probably would have booed myself the way I was playing, too...It opened my eyes a little bit more. Maybe I just needed to get better." Kemp also discusses the criticism he faced over his poor performance from within the Dodgers organization: "I tried hard all the time. I never gave up... so for somebody to say that I'd just given up and wasn't trying is not true." Watch clip:

Matt Kemp turned things around for the 2011 season, winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award and nearly a triple crown. However, he came in second to the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun for the National League MVP. Kemp says, "I should have won" and shoots down the notion that the winner should come from a playoff team: "That's the excuse that everybody's saying, 'Oh, they need to be on a winning team'.... I thought I should have won, but hopefully, I can do it this year." Kemp also addresses the controversy around Ryan Braun testing positive for performance enhancing drugs after being named MVP: "I can't control what somebody does or doesn't do. He had a great season." Watch clip:

After the 2011 season, the Dodgers signed Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension marking the richest player contract in team history. Kemp said it was an overwhelming moment when the deal was completed: "I cried because it's something that you dream about, as a kid, is taking care of your mom and your family and wanting to do good things for people, and I was just like, well, my dreams had came true." Watch clip:

Matt Kemp's huge contract extension has allowed him to develop some expensive habits. Kemp tells Graham Bensinger about his 400 pair, two-hundred thousand dollar shoe collection. Watch clip:

For most of 2010, Matt Kemp was in a relationship with music superstar Rihanna. Discussing the paparazzi and tabloid media attention: "It's pretty much overwhelming. That's not something I've ever been used to. I'm not used to going to a grocery store or to just somewhere simple and people following you around." His mother and grandmother even chastised him after a photo of Kemp and Rihanna in an embrace made the papers: "'You can't be doing that.' And I was like, 'Okay. I won't do it again.'" Watch clip:

Matt Kemp was a basketball star in high school even playing in tournaments against future NBA stars Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Basketball was his first love, not baseball. His father tried to convince him to focus on baseball: "We had fights about that. He wanted me to play baseball, and I was like, 'No. I want to go play basketball.'" Kemp didn't begin to take baseball seriously until he was a senior in high school: "I started seeing all the scouts around the ballpark telling me that I could get drafted...So I listened to him, focused on baseball my whole senior year, and it kind of worked out for me." Watch clip:

Matt Kemp recalls accidentally shooting his cousin in the leg with a BB gun when he was young boy: "I swear it accidentally went off, and it was a good shot. If I aimed it at him and tried to shoot him with it, I probably wouldn't have hit him." On wanting to treat his cousin's injury himself, much to his grandfather's objection: "The thing about it, you could see the BB in his knee, and I was going to take a knife and literally cut it out. He was like, 'No, we can't do that. It's going to get infected.'" Watch clip:

Matt Kemps tells about wanting to be famous, being lonely in the minors and his raw talent. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp talks about recovering after a bad game, his intense workouts and becoming a clubhouse leader. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp discusses his dad's absence as a kid and emulating his mom's work ethic. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp reacts to Joe Torre calling him a role model and his own most satisfying career moment. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp gives us a glimpse inside his Hollywood Hills mansion. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp answers viewer questions and shares his favorite walk-off moment. Watch clip:

Matt Kemp shows what food he takes to the ballpark made by his own chef. Watch clip:

Watch full Matt Kemp episode:

Graham Bensinger's Facebook page is and his website is Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamBensinger. Email Graham at

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