Vanessa Bryant wore Kobe Bryant’s high school varsity jacket to the opening of a new basketball court in honor of her late husband and daughter in Philadelphia.
Vanessa Bryant visited a new mural depicting her late husband Kobe and daughter Gianna this week.
The former model, 40, posted a photo to Instagram on Tuesday of herself in front of the mural, which is located in Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia. In the pic, she was wearing Kobe’s Lower Merion Aces high school varsity jacket.
According to the post, Vanessa was in Philadelphia to attend the opening of two new basketball courts in Kobe and Gianna’s name at Tustin Playground in collaboration with Nancy Lieberman’s Dream Courts charity organization.
Dream Courts’ Instagram shared photos of the new court, which features a half-court circle bearing Kobe and Gianna’s names as well as a Los Angeles Lakers-style purple and yellow color scheme with Kobe’s No. 24 surrounded by a heart just outside each end’s foul line.
The mural, which Vanessa credits to Philadelphia artist Ernel Martinez, stands in the corner of the court, watching over basketball players in Kobe’s hometown city.
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“📍PHILADELPHIA📍where my husband’s love for basketball all began,” Vanessa wrote in the post’s caption. “Today, in the historic Tustin Playground and thanks to the generous contributions of donors, fans, and friends, our foundation @mambamambacitasports opened ✨2✨more @dream_courts with @nlcharities, which were beautifully surrounded by the artwork of @Art_by_Ernel.”
Vanessa went on to explain why she helped open a court dedicated to her late husband and daughter.
“I chose this location so that young people in this community may have a safe space to play with equal opportunity which was important to Kobe and Gianna,” she wrote. “We are grateful to the City of Philadelphia, @muralarts for welcoming this project and helping to make it a reality.”
The new court’s opening came on a significant anniversary for the Bryant family. Tuesday also marked 11 years since the Lakers won the 2009 NBA Finals, Kobe’s fourth championship with the franchise. Los Angeles defeated the Orlando Magic 4-1 in the best-of-seven championship series, for which Kobe was named NBA Finals MVP.
Jan. 26 marked two years since the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that killed Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was on their way to a youth basketball game.
Tuesday’s court opening in Philadelphia was not the first time Vanessa has worked to help preserve Kobe and Gianna’s legacies.
In March, Vanessa announced that she renewed her partnership with Nike to continue producing Kobe and Gianna products for basketball fans. At the time, Vanessa stated that Nike will donate 100 percent of net proceeds from Gianna’s shoe line to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, the nonprofit Kobe founded to create positive change for underserved youth athletes.
She wrote that she and Nike will also be working together to “establish a youth basketball center in Southern California that will share the Mamba Mentality with youth athletes for generations to come.”
In January, Vanessa posted a throwback photo to commemorate Kobe’s historic 81-point game —the second-most ever by a player in a single game — in a Jan. 22, 2006 matchup against the Toronto Raptors.[via]