Heart of a Warrior

PALMDALE -It all started on a routine family trip to Las Vegas two years ago.

Palmdale resident Martin Vartanian, his wife, Monica, and two teenage boys, Anthony and Alex, were in the city when he received a call from his workout parter, Luiz Perez, inviting him to a taping of “American Ninja Warrior.”

The Vartanians stood in line for an hour and a half waiting for the event to start. When it finally did, a light bulb went off.

“When I saw it happen, I said, ‘This is it. I gotta do this,'” Vartanian said while sitting on his living-room couch in East Palmdale, surrounded by his family.

Thus began Vartanian’s two-year journey that recently culminated in his selection to compete on Season 9 of the popular TV show. He ran his race on March 7, but could not disclose how he finished. The show will air sometime in May.

It took two attempts for Vartanian to be invited to the competition. Last year, he applied with Perez but did not make the cut. Perez, however, did.

This season, he almost wasn’t chosen again. But a producer tipped him as to how he could make it on the show. But it wasn’t easy.

Vartanian had to wait in a line of walk-on candidates every day for two weeks. He took time off from his job as a training director in information technology, and his family was left to hold down the fort at home in his absence.

“Everything was on hold,” Monica said. “We were on our own. Everybody was putting in what we could to get it done.”

But the waiting – and his family’s sacrifice – paid off. Vartanian ended up as one of the 33 remaining in the walk-on line, all of whom were given a spot on the show due to injuries and dropouts.

When Vartanian decided to take on this endeavor, he had to shift his entire fitness routine. Already a daily gym-goer, Vartanian incorporated training to improve his balance, grip strength and upper body. He also started indoor rock climbing, which he had never tried before.

Vartanian said he lost 20 pounds to get ready for the show.

But the 58-year-old wasn’t always so focused on fitness. Vartanian decided to make health a priority when he learned his wife was pregnant with their first son, Alex, who is currently 17.

His desire to stay fit for his children is rooted in a tragedy from his childhood.

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Lakers want to create chemistry

LOS ANGELES – With the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss Tuesday to the Clippers, the Lakers (20-51) have only 11 games remaining this season. And while it may behoove them to lose as many games as possible to keep their top 3-protected pick, the team has other goals in mind down the final stretch of the season.

“I would like to see us build chemistry,” Lakers forward Larry Nance, Jr., said before Tuesday’s game. “Whether that results in a win or loss, I would like to see everybody playing towards one goal, everybody being unselfish, everybody playing with one goal in mind.”

The playoffs have been officially out of reach for only less than a week, but the team’s extended pattern of losses has led to the Lakers shutting down Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng – their highest-paid players – in order get give their young core as much playing time and experience as possible.

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Clippers send Lakers a clear message

LOS ANGELES – Tuesday was a night of messages for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Clippers sent the message that they were the vastly superior team, beating their hallway rivals 133-109 after making 15 3-pointers and leading by as many as 37 points.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton sent his team a message to start the second half by benching all five starters after they gave up 70 points to the Clippers and trailed by 30 after only 24 minutes of play.

“The most important (message) was that playing without a certain amount of effort isn’t gonna be acceptable or tolerated,” Walton said after the game.

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Lakers: David Nwaba fulfills childhood dream of becoming Laker

LOS ANGELES — David Nwaba was born and raised in Los Angeles. He grew up watching the Kobe-Shaq teams that won three NBA championships with the Lakers in the early 2000s.

As he attended University High School and Cal Poly Pomona-San Luis Obispo, he dreamed of one day playing for his hometown team. But while in college, he knew that would be a long shot.

No one from his school had ever made it to the NBA, so in his mind, he felt playing overseas was his No. 1 option because he didn’t attend a training camp or summer league, Nwaba told me before Tuesday’s game against the Clippers.

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