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 As many Thunder fans know, Russell Westbrook is a California boy – a native of Long Beach. While is passion for the game of basketball has sometimes been a subject of contention, many don’t know the origins of that fire.

What drives Westbrook – not only to be a better player, but a better person – is the death of his best friend Khelcey Barrs.

As kids, the two had plans of attending UCLA and playing ball together until Khelcey died suddenly during a pickup game from an undiagnosed enlarged heart in 2004.

Westbrook was honored at the 32nd annual Oklahoma City Heart Ball on Saturday. Khelcey’s story was featured during the ball – a story Westbrook hopes will inspire others.

“Khelcey was my best friend growing up, lived right across the street from me. We were very close,” Westbrook said. “Every night I go on the floor is definitely for him.”

The American Heart Association hoped to raise more than $640,000 from Saturday's ball.