Heartbreaking photo shows young athletes paying tribute at Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Academy
A heartbreaking photo on Sunday showed dozens of young athletes kneeling on a basketball court in tribute to Kobe Bryant, at the hoops star’s Mamba Sports Academy in California.
The emotional image, posted on Twitter by @_nightingaleee, shows grief-stricken basketball players in jerseys and others kneeling or sitting on the court, many with their heads bowed.
“The kids who were waiting for Kobe and Gigi in Mamba Academy.
,” wrote @_nightingaleee.
The legendary NBA player and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna had reportedly been on their way to a planned basketball game at the athletic facility in Thousand Oaks when their chopper crashed, killing them and seven other people on board.
Gianna was expected to play in the game, part of a tournament in the Mamba Cup Series, with Bryant acting as coach, Lady Mavericks team director Evelyn Morales, told CNN.
All games that had been scheduled to take place at the training center on Sunday were reportedly canceled, in the aftermath of the tragic crash.
The retired Los Angeles Lakers star — who gave himself the nickname “Black Mamba” — co-founded the training facility for professional and amateur athletes in 2018.
For the last two years, Bryant, 41, had coached Gianna’s Amateur Athletic Union basketball team at the facility, according to a USA Today article on the academy published last week
The father of four is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant,and three daughters Natalia, Bianka and their infant Capri, who was born in July 2019. Natalia was born in 2003, and she turned 17 last week. Bianka, born in 2016, recently celebrated her third birthday
In looking at his social media, Kobe appeared to be an involved father, and he often posted pictures of his daughters.
Just one week ago, Kobe shared a picture of his daughter, Natalia, in celebration of her 17th birthday. He called her his “little Principessa.” Two weeks ago, they went to Cashmere to watch the women’s basketball team, and Kobe wrote, “We took a trip to #cashmere today to watch @haileyvanlith11 hoop and she and her teammates put on a show! Can’t wait to watch her play next season @uoflwbb.”
Natalia attends Sage Hill High School in Los Angeles, California, and she plays volleyball.
Less than two months ago, the father of four celebrated his daughter Bianka’s third birthday with an adorable picture of the two of them in which she wore a white tutu dress and matching hairbow while sitting atop his shoulders. Both father and daughter shared big smiles for the camera.
According to a recent USA Today story, Kobe proudly coached Gianna’s AAU basketball team called “The Mambas.” Gianna even talked her dad into watching NBA League Pass nearly every night, and he took her to two Lakers games recently. He spoke highly of coaching the young women on his daughter’s team.
“Coaching youth sports is so important to take very seriously because you’re helping the emotional (development) of young kids,” Bryant said. “So it’s understanding not to be overcritical and understanding that (there) are going to be mistakes.”
As a coach, he spent the majority of the practices teaching the young players the fundamentals of basketball, so that they will have a strong foundation for their future games.
According to TMZ, Kobe and Gigi were on their way to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for a basketball practice at the time of the helicopter crash
After his retirement from the Lakers, Kobe worked on writing children’s books, which he started his own publishing company — Granity Studios — to publish. Despite his strong work ethic, the former NBA star was devoted to his daughters, and he left each day at 2 p.m. to pick them up from school.
After his pickup duties, the father of four would come back to work around 3:30 p.m. to finish out each workday.
Last Halloween, Kobe shared an adorable family costume that included Vanessa and their four girls.
They dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz. There is no doubt that Kobe loved his daughters.
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