Sources familiar with Island Express tell TMZ, the company had liability insurance coverage totaling $50 million. Our sources say that’s not an unusual figure, but given the number of people Island Express transports on a single helicopter and the fact rich celebrities used the service … the number is low. Our sources say a more appropriate amount of coverage for the company would have been closer to $100 million. As we reported, Kylie Jenner — a 22-year-old billionaire — also recently took the same Island Express helicopter that crashed.
Bryant was not an active player like Munson when he died, but he remained as synonymous with the Lakers as anyone who had ever worn the purple and gold. I asked Jackson, still a special adviser to the Yankees, for any counsel he would offer if a current Laker were to ask him. “You can’t,” Jackson said. “There’s no giving advice on this. It’s too emotional, too personal. It’s with you every day in L.A.” Jackson would say only that it’s “very important” for a team soaked in sorrow “to have a leader there.” For his Yankees, it was Murcer. For the Lakers, the pillars have been Coach Frank Vogel, General Manager Rob Pelinka (Bryant’s former agent and Gianna Bryant’s godfather) and LeBron.
Mark Medina: Vanessa Bryant: “Gigi would’ve been the best player in the WNBA. She would’ve made a huge difference in women’s basketball.”
Kyle Goon: Diana Taurasi, the White Mamba, with a sizzling moment of levity while talking about Gigi: I mean who has a turnaround fade-away jumper at 11? LeBron just barely got one today. (Referencing LeBron’s shoot against Boston yesterday.)
As mourners gathered at Staples Center on Monday for a memorial service to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter that crashed last month and claimed the lives of her husband, daughter and seven other people.
The complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleged that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash in Calabasas, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.” “Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit accuses Zobayan, Bryant’s longtime pilot, of several acts of negligence including failing to abort the flight, failing to monitor and assess the weather, and failure to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the helicopter. “On information and belief, Defendant Island Express Helicopters employed Defendant Zobayan with conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others and authorized or ratified his wrong conduct, and itself engaged in conduct with malice, oppression, or fraud,” the complaint said.
Since his death at age 41, the nation has mourned the loss of the NBA Hall of Famer, who was an 18-time All-Star and 15-time member of the All-NBA Team. Bryant, Collins said, was one of his favorite professional basketball players. “I loved what he brought to the game,” he said. Collins, who has built customized designer caskets for roughly a decade over his 47 years, said social media led to what he called this humbling assignment. Through social networking, he said, a friend of Bryant’s family reached out to ask if Collins could create some type of memorial art to honor Kobe and the other victims.
“This is nothing people have ever seen. This is something I created,” Collins said from his work site off Collins Place on the edge of Elizabethtown. “And the whole vision behind it – I cannot take the pain away. I try to capture moments to bring back life, energy and the inspiration of the loved ones and their legacy.” The casket, which he said cost $13,000, was built over 3½ days. Donations helped cover the cost, and the names of those donors have been added to a picture of Bryant's jersey that is meant to be part of the tribute memorial set.
Gigi started to gain more buzz when a Ballislife mixtape of her highlights dropped in May 2019. The video has over 10 million views on YouTube. "People were so happy," says Cazzie Luz, who filmed the video. "They were like, 'He has a daughter, and she can play?!" She was becoming ultra-competitive. Last summer, the Mambas were beating a team 50-0. With less than a minute to go, one of the Mambas fouled a player, sending her to the free-throw line. The girl made her first free throw and a Mamba player clapped. Gigi turned to her, gently hit her hand and said, "Don't clap for them!"
She and Altobelli—her best friend on the team, the one she shared the most inside jokes with—were a terror at the top of the team's 1-2-2 full-court press and 2-3 matchup zone. Kobe didn't even tell them to trap, but Gigi, with her long arms, instinctually figured out that they should, and she began hounding girls. Last spring, she shut down a girl six inches taller than her. "She fought. She had this fire," says Mike Alexander, CEO and president of Swoosh Basketball, who was at that game. Gigi rarely took breathers. "Even after the whistle blows, she's still going, still keeping the play alive," says Athena Tomlinson, 14, a friend and rival who was mentored by Kobe (he'd call her "Shifty Lefty").
One game, against OC Rhythm, Gigi and an opponent dove for a loose ball. The girl fouled Gigi so hard she tumbled and hit the floor, nearly hitting her head. Kobe walked over, but Gigi bounced back up, heading back to the bench like nothing happened. Jimmy Valverde, a coach for OC Rhythm and the head girl's basketball coach for Esperanza High, came up to Kobe after and said, "I hope she's OK." "Man," Kobe said. "She's a tough kid."
On Monday morning, about 20,000 people — celebrities, athletes, family members, fans and friends — will fill Staples Center to honor Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 near Calabasas, Calif. The public memorial, called “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant,” is expected to run from about 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Pacific time, Zeidman said, followed by several invitation-only receptions. An undisclosed number of tickets were sold to the general public through a lottery. Those who were unable to purchase tickets will not be permitted access to L.A. Live, the entertainment complex adjacent to Staples Center. Officials are discouraging people from trying to congregate near the arena.
Los Angeles will come to a stop Monday to publicly memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant at the Staples Center. When Vanessa Bryant announced the pubic service on Instagram earlier this month, she pointed out the symbolism in the date: 2/24/20. Two for the number Gianna, aka “Mambacita,” wore. Twenty-four for the number Kobe wore during the second half of his career. And twenty, for the years Kobe and Vanessa spent together. Kobe and Gianna were buried in a private ceremony on Feb. 7, according to records.
Details are still being finalized for the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" event set to be held at 10 a.m. Monday morning local time at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, but fans and others who do not have a ticket are being asked to avoid the area altogether.
Several streets around the arena will be closed in the early morning. Zeidman said doors to the arena will open at 8 a.m. and that fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats no later than 10:45 a.m. "We have to start on time due to the fact that we have a Clippers game coming in on the heels [of this event," he said.
The sudden and tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, who all perished in a horrific helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, loomed over the event as a whole. Bryant was honored with a heartwarming video tribute during the event, and his former teammates Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, who Bryant played 20 seasons combined with, took the stage to tell their favorite stories and memories of their friend. Bryant was named the L.A. Sports Awards Sportsman of the Year recipient in 2008.
Hundreds of people have descended on a cemetery here to pay respects to Kobe Bryant, but the owner says they are going to the wrong gravesite. Flowers left for Bryant and his daughter Gianna are being cleared out on a daily basis at the Pacific View Memorial Park because the private plot belongs to another family, a media relations specialist for the cemetery told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a couple that came to the cemetery to visit Kobe Bryant's gravesite said they thought it was his – even after a security guard insisted it wasn't. The couple, which declined to give their names, pointed to a small bush with Christmas ornaments outside the private plot and said they thought it was a ploy to fool people into thinking the person was buried months ago.
Twenty-four and two have become significant numbers for the entire athletic community, including WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who was previously the CEO of Deloitte. During an appearance at the 2020 MAKERS Conference last week, she had the numbers “24” and “2” painted on her nails with the iconic Lakers’ colors — yellow and purple. It was her 22-year-old daughter’s idea to pay a personal tribute to the Bryants.
“Kobe was a huge advocate for the WNBA, and for women and girls in sports. Girls drop out of sports at an alarming rate by the age of 13,” said Engelbert, noting that Gianna and her teammates were all 13. “Kobe also championed those who hoped to be a part of the league in the future by working with college teams like the University of Connecticut and University of Oregon. His impact was much broader than I certainly thought,” she added.
The demand for tickets to the Feb. 24 memorial service celebrating the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant far exceeds the number of available seats. More than 90,000 people registered for tickets in the first 24 hours, a source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports on Saturday. Capacity at Staples Center is approximately 20,000, and many of those seats are expected to be reserved for Kobe’s friends and family, NBA luminaries and other invited guests.
The plans for Kobe and Gigi Bryant's Staples Center memorial are getting locked down and details for the service will be unveiled today. Sources familiar with the planning tell us event organizers are working closely with Kobe's family to finalize who will speak at the service, and which singers and entertainers will take part. We're told tickets will be available to the general public, although there will be a number of invited guests who get tickets first, including family, friends, players, NBA officials and, we're told, season ticket holders.
The NBA's plan for honoring Kobe Bryant at this weekend's All-Star Game in Chicago is taking shape. Grammy winner and Windy City native Jennifer Hudson will perform a tribute to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other people killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, the NBA announced Thursday morning. Hudson will perform before player introductions for Sunday's 69th All-Star Game.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were buried Friday at a Southern California cemetery following their deaths January 26 in a helicopter crash, death certificates released Tuesday by Los Angeles County officials show. Their resting place is Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar, California, the documents state. The cemetery is about two miles from the Pacific Ocean and less than a 10-minute drive from the family's church, Our Lady Queen of Angels, in Newport Beach. No details about a graveside service were released.
The memorial for Kobe and Gigi Bryant will be attended by friends, family, NBA officials and players, season ticket holders and local politicians. The remaining seats will be ticketed and go to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis. As we reported, the memorial will be held at Staples Center on February 24th, where seating capacity stands at around 20,000. Fact is ... hundreds of thousands of people would like to honor Kobe and Gigi, but there's no way all of them can be accommodated.
We're told just like the Michael Jackson and Nipsey Hussle memorials, the streets around Staples will be closed for security and traffic control. The memorial will not be broadcast on the screens outside Staples or L.A. Live.
Vanessa Bryant: I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all.
Howard Chen: #Kobe/Gigi shirts today in San Francisco for Lakers @ Warriors pic.twitter.com/OOEapRLRHj
Monte Poole: For those who have asked: The Warriors plan on Saturday to memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant, and all victims in of the Jan. 26 tragedy. There will be special T-shirts and a video tribute. Chase Center exterior lights will be purple and gold.
Mark Medina: Vanessa Bryant confirms Kobe & Gianna's memorial will be on Feb. 24 at 10 am at Staples Center bit.ly/2S8GYcZ pic.twitter.com/Y75wvyCRS5
Wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month and killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others did not show any outward evidence of engine failure, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the others died in the Jan. 26 crash in Calabasas, California. The group was flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy. Gianna's team was coached by Bryant and was playing in the tournament.
The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn't expected for at least a year. A witness told the NTSB that the helicopter was flying forward and downward through the fog before it crashed right into the hillside. The witness said he saw the helicopter for 1 to 2 seconds before it hit the hill.
Jay-Z is opening up about the final conversation he had with Kobe Bryant just weeks before the NBA star's untimely death. "'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said Bryant told him as they celebrated New Year's at the hip hop mogul's home.
"So Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we've hung out multiple times," Jay-Z responded. "He was last in my house on New Year's and he was just in the greatest space I've seen him in and one of the last things he said to me was, 'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said. The rapper continued: "That was one of the most hurtful things because he was so proud. The look on his face...I looked at him and said, 'Oh she's going to be the best female basketball player in the world.' He was just so proud of what he said. That was a tough one. My wife and I are taking that really tough."
Joe Favorito: Tearful @NancyLieberman told story of how #kobebryant called her #mamamamba & asked her to come train his daughter Saturday night prior to crash. Told Diana Munson she will be a role model for the family over time . #munsondinner #SportsBiz
James, voted as an All-Star captain, will lead his team Feb. 16 against the squad selected by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, the league's reigning MVP. James said the league contacted him last week, looping him into plans to have one team wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant and one team wear No. 2 in honor of Gianna, who was a budding basketball star herself as a 13-year-old. "They asked me which number did I want to wear, the 24 or 2 for my team, and I picked 2," James said Monday.
Why No. 2 and not the No. 24 for his former Olympic teammate, contemporary competitor and the man he is tasked with taking the torch from as the next great superstar for the Lakers? "Zhuri," James said. Zhuri Nova is James' 5-year-old daughter. Before James changed his Instagram profile picture to a photograph of Bryant holding Gianna in his arms after the Lakers' championship win in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, James' profile pic was a photo of Zhuri with a big smile.
NBC Sports Chicago: You also announced plans for Team LeBron (James) to wear No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) to wear No. 24 to honor Gianna and Kobe Bryant’s numbers, as well as jersey patches with nine stars to honor all victims. Some had suggested having one team wear Kobe’s No. 8 and the other wear Kobe’s No. 24. But this gesture had to touch all families involved, as well as current players? Adam Silver: It’s celebratory but emotional. This is what makes these great athletes such special people too. I think what we forget sometimes as fans is that this is a very public mourning period.
NBC Sports Chicago: What have you seen from the NBA community from David’s passing to Kobe’s, which is hard for anybody to wrap their mind around? Adam Silver: It’s a reminder of how strong this family is. From team owners, former team owners, players, former players, executives at the league and teams and even alumni, it feels like a family organization. During difficult times, a family comes together. I’ve been really moved this week by the outpouring of support for not just Kobe’s family but the families of the other victims of that helicopter crash. I’ve been moved by the players’ desire to memorialize Kobe and his daughter at the All-Star game and the events that are now coming together — and also by those who want to make sure that we recognize David Stern at an otherwise celebratory occasion like All-Star weekend.
NBC Sports Chicago: You cited the celebratory nature of All-Star weekend. How do you as commissioner and as a league try to strike the proper balance between that while also honoring the legacies of Stern and Bryant? Adam Silver: By remaining authentic and not trying to force anything. By putting in place the platform both for memorializing but also celebrating and letting these events play out in their own way. That’s what I’ve learned over many years here. You don’t want to try to overproduce these events. I have no doubt that there will be spontaneous moments. I think some things we are planning may fall flat or not have the desired impact. But other small moments that we would’ve never anticipated would have the consequences they do will invariably end up being the most memorable moments of the weekend.
Vanessa Bryant: Seeing my babygirl smile and happy again with a basketball 🏀 under her arm, wrapped in 💜💛love just warmed my heart. Thank you for this. @_vivalareina thank you!! My Gigi.❤️ #Mambacita
Two hours before the scheduled tipoff, a team official walks toward two unoccupied courtside seats directly opposite the Lakers' bench and drapes Bryant's No. 24 Lakers uniform over one and Gianna's No. 2 Mamba Academy jersey over the other. Another official tells a pair of nearby security guards that they are not to leave their posts unless someone relieves them.
CBS This Morning: Basketball fans in the Philippines painted a giant mural of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna inside a neighborhood basketball court in Manila as tribute to the @Lakers legend. http://cbsn.ws/2RYRD8K
The NBA plans to carry on Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna's, legacy. On Friday afternoon, the organization announced they will be making a joint donation of $100,000 with the National Basketball Player Association to the MambaOnThree Foundation.
The NBA, NBPA and Nike announced today that the 2020 NBA All-Star uniforms will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and their seven friends and teammates who tragically passed away in last Sunday’s helicopter accident. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron (James) wearing the No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) wearing the No. 24 – Gianna and Kobe’s basketball jersey numbers, respectively.
In addition, both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing those who lost their lives in the crash, including John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan. The players will wear the jerseys during the NBA All-Star Game at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET.
On Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET, the league’s best rookies and sophomores will take the court during NBA Rising Stars, all wearing jersey patches featuring the Nos. 2 and 24 in the center surrounded by nine stars. The same patch will be worn by the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
Fred Katz: Former Laker Moe Wagner on Kobe: “It was a weird weird tough weekend. I’m not gonna lie. It hit me harder than I can describe.” Says he‘d attended Gigi’s team practice before. “Life is precious. You gotta appreciate every second. I called my loved ones & told them I loved them”
After flying in after their loss in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Sacramento Kings didn’t get settled in L.A. until 2 a.m. on Thursday, so that’s when Luke Walton visited the larger-than-life shrine that has grown in memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant outside Staples Center at L.A. Live. “It was emotional,” said Walton, the Kings coach who played with Kobe for nine seasons and won two NBA titles with him on the Lakers. “There were people at 2 in the morning … they were chanting. There was a group of people chanting ‘Kooo-beeee.’ Two in the morning. And you’re looking around and, again, seeing how many people he touched, and the flowers and the candles and the messages and the handwritten notes. It was an emotional setting.”
Pau Gasol: #RIPmybrother #RIPGigi #RIPJohnAltobelli #RIPKeriAltobelli #RIPAlyssaAltobelli #RIPSarahChester #RIPPaytonChester #RIPChristinaMauser #RIPAraZobayan
Vanessa Bryant: My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them.
Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, made a first public acknowledgment Wednesday since the death of her husband and one of their children, changing the profile photo on her Instagram account to one of the basketball legend and their 13-year-old daughter sharing a tender moment.
Vanessa Bryant has not publicly spoken or released a statement. After the crash she made her Instagram page private. Wednesday it was public again with a new profile image.
When the trio huddled at that Dec. 29 game at Staples, Gianna excitedly told the story of how she “did the Shammgod on this girl” in a recent game. “She was so locked in,” Shammgod said. “Her mind-set was just like his mind-set.” That was evident in a 2019 glimpse of Gianna on camera with the Las Vegas CBS affiliate during a trip to watch that season’s opener for the W.N.B.A.’s Las Vegas Aces. Explaining her fascination with film study, Gigi could not have sounded much more like her father when she said, “More information, more inspiration.”
Shams Charania: Lakers guard Quinn Cook is changing his number from No. 2 to No. 28 to honor Gianna Bryant, combining Gigi's No. 2 and Kobe's No. 8, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Farbod Esnaashari: The banner backstage at STAPLES Center now reads: "Rest in Paradise Kobe and Gigi." It's all starting to feel real now.
The bodies of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others who died in a helicopter crash have been recovered from a Calabasas hillside, coroner officials said Tuesday. Authorities on Sunday removed the bodies of at least three victims from the wreckage. Remains of the six remaining victims were located Monday, and their bodies have been taken to the Los Angeles County coroner’s forensic science center, where officials will work to identify them.
Anthony Puccio: (1/3): I spoke with @Spencer Dinwiddie and he explained why he chose the number 26. “It’s an obvious choice, I kept coming to that number, but here’s why... They passed on the 26th. 24 and 2 are their numbers; 2+ 6 is 8. I’m 26 currently.”
In heavy fog and with no radio connection to the controller, likely blocked by the mountains in low altitude, the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. “This was totally avoidable, and on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible,’’ said Robert Ditchey, a longtime airplane pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive who lives in Los Angeles. “Here’s one of the most important people in the world who comes to a tragic end like this and you say, ‘Why? What the hell happened?’
“They’re in the fog, and you’re down hugging the ground trying to fly up the highway and barely able to see it,’’ Ditchey said. “He’s down only 100 feet or so above the ground. In that area of the San Fernando Valley you have mountains on either side of you … and the clouds have obscured them, and you don’t have that much room to maneuver.’’ Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the precise conditions when the crash occurred are still under investigation, but he acknowledged there was “an issue with visibility and a low ceiling’’ on Sunday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday officials with the coroner's office were recovering remains from the hilly crash scene. "It's a very difficult task. It's going to take a while " Villanueva said.
Gordon appeared close to tears as he spoke to reporters Sunday night. “It’s sad,” Gordon said. “Personally and selfishly, I don’t get to develop a relationship with him that I knew was going to be something special. It’s just sad for him and his family and Gigi (Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter) as well. I really don’t know what to say.”
Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 MVP and WNBA champion, said Gigi was "symbolic of his legacy, and also the future of women's basketball." Gigi had become a big fan of 11-time national champion UConn, and she went to Huskies games with her father, including UConn's senior day in 2019 for Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Samuelson said Bryant sent her a text after that game. "He recorded me walking out with my dad," Samuelson said. "He said he had to get that moment, because he knew he'd be a wreck if it was him."
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird sat next to Bryant and Gigi at the WNBA All-Star Game last July in Las Vegas. The four-time Olympic gold medalist -- at the game with girlfriend and U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe -- was sidelined with a knee injury. They got a chance to chat with Bryant and Gigi while watching many of the best women's basketball players in the world. "He just really wanted to expose Gigi to as much greatness as he could," Bird said. "He wanted her to meet Megan, to meet me. I know he's taken his whole family to Megan's soccer games. He's been very present in the WNBA. He was going on this journey with his daughter, and I think we could all feel that it was going somewhere special. For him as a father, for her as a future basketball player, for them in that father-daughter relationship."
However, Terry has also taken on a prominent role in coaching youth girls basketball and his daughters. He spoke on the broadcast about the impact Gianna Bryant had on them. “[Gianna] was a walking image [of Kobe Bryant]. I watched her shoot one of her last 3-point shots, it was right in front of me and it was the same body mannerisms. She had it, she embodied it and she was the same competitor,” Terry said. “It was funny. Before I came to work today, my youngest is in the driveway shooting baskets. My second-youngest now tells me she’s gonna now play basketball. And that’s because of GiGi. They don’t know Kobe. They know GiGi."
Kobe Bryant had already made plans for his daughter, Gianna -- AKA GiGi -- to follow in his legendary footsteps by filing to trademark her very own hoops nickname. TMZ Sports obtained the paperwork Kobe filed for "Mambacita" on Dec. 30, 2019. Of course, the name is both a tip of the hat to GiGi's father -- the Black Mamba -- and also to her own growing prowess on the hardcourt. According to the docs ... the plan was to put "Mambacita" on all sorts of sportswear -- shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.
Trae Young fought back tears as he spoke about the last conversation he had with Kobe. He said Kobe told him he was proud of how much he's seen his game progress, and to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and for Gigi.
In our short conversations that day, we talked about Gianna and her love of basketball. We joked about how much more hectic our lives had gotten with the addition of more kids. His youngest daughter, Capri, was born last June, one month after my second son. When I chastised him for not coming around Lakers games more often, he said, “I’ve been busy chasing these four kids around.”
Saturday was the final time Young spoke to Kobe and Gianna. A source told The Athletic prior to the Hawks’ game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night that Kobe and Gianna FaceTimed with Young on Saturday to congratulate him for being named a starter in the All-Star Game. Young didn’t want to divulge all of the details of their conversation but did confirm that he spoke with the father-daughter duo the day before they tragically died, alongside seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how he’s seen my game progress,” Young said before he paused for eight seconds as he choked up. “He was just happy for me. He was saying how proud he was of me and how he wants to continue seeing me be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all of the kids looking up to me and continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out. That was one of the last things he said to me.”
Gianna told Young how much she loved watching him play and how big of a fan she was of the Hawks’ point guard. Young told her he made it a point to watch her highlights on YouTube and Twitter. She admired Young so much that she wanted to train how he trains. It didn’t matter that her father was one of the best basketball players of all time; she wanted to be like Young. So, Gianna started training with Alex Bazzell, Young’s trainer during the offseason, in addition to her lessons from dad. Young went to one of Bryant’s camps while he was in high school. But Young’s relationship with Kobe only started blossoming in the past two years as Gianna started idolizing Young.
August 7, 2022 | 4:31 pm EDT Update
Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.
And Dragic knows that the Eurobasket will not be a walk in the park: “This will be my toughest championship so far. I think a lot of national teams have players from the NBA. I believe that we will have good chances. I did not return to the national team to play for fifth or sixth place. The desire is for a medal, but now, as I said, it is necessary to go step by step”.
Law Murray: For the first time since 2017, Norman Powell is playing today @DrewLeague for Hometown Favorites He is the first current LA Clippers player to play at Drew League since Montrezl Harrell in 2019. pic.twitter.com/7fDl7wv6Lv
Clutch Points: LaVar Ball EJECTED during LiAngelo Ball’s 52-point eruption in the Drew League 🔥 pic.twitter.com/BxHelwimCl
August 7, 2022 | 3:16 am EDT Update
Make no mistake, though: Much as Wood seemed to revel in the chance to take a breather and hang with young fans, he said he’s wholly focused on the possibilities that lie ahead with his tenure on the Mavs. “It’s a great opportunity for me and for this organization to try and take that next step,” Christian Wood said. “I just want to win games. My main objective is to try and get to the Finals.”
“I’m still counting my blessings and happy to be here,” he said. Specifically, the 6-foot-9 center was speaking about being a Maverick. But on Thursday, that gratitude could also extend to his time with the kids he got to work out with in Plano. “I was once that little kid that would look up to NBA players and hope that he would sign my shoe or hope that I would be able to meet him in person,” he said. “With kids, I can be myself and I can be a kid myself. So it’s fun.”