Sometimes Isabella Escribano cries when she’s in the gym, but only for a few moments. She knows that it’s not what her late teammates and coach would want.
“I’m not just gonna sit around and just start crying,” Isabella, 11, said. “I’m just gonna get in the gym, you know, keep working because that’s what he would have wanted all of us to do just keep on just doing your thing.”
Isabella, a Canyon Country resident, is a member of the Mamba Academy basketball program. On Jan. 26, her coach and former NBA star, Kobe Bryant, along with three of her teammates died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
Isabella and her older brother, Marco, were on their way to a game at the Mamba Academy Thousand Oaks facility when they heard the news of the crash. When they arrived at the facility, all games had stopped and all players, fans and spectators were seated. Tissues were scattered around the floor.
“It was just a sad room,” Isabella said. “It was painful to see my teammates like that. We were praying, it was just horrible.”
She was slated to start the upcoming season with the Mamba Academy sixth-grade team and had spent the majority of the current season learning the systems, including the Lakers’ triangle offense.
Isabella was originally picked up for the team shortly after she began training with Phil Handy, an assistant coach for the Lakers. A video surfaced of Isabella working out with JR Smith under Handy, and Bryant saw it. He reached out to Handy to make sure the video was legitimate, then offered Isabella a spot on his sixth grade Mamba Academy team.
“Like, oh my god he wants me to play on his team,” Isabella said of her reaction. “I’m like, so hyper, I’m jumping up and down. It’s my dream to be coached by like the greatest of all time because if I want to be the greatest of all time, I need to be coached by the greatest of all time.”
She spent game after game on the bench alongside Bryant and practiced alongside his daughter, Gianna. She began learning the triangle offense and consulted Bryant on scouting reports ahead of games.
Bryant encouraged Isabella to work on her shot. One day, Marco and Isabella asked how many shots she should take per day.
“He was like, ‘shoot until your arms fall off,’” Marco said. “And we’re waiting for like, an actual response, so we’re laughing. He’s like no, shoot until your arms fall off.”
So Isabella stayed after practice every day, shooting until her arms felt like they would fall off. Also in the gym was Bryant and Gianna, who were determined not to be outworked by the two. No matter what, Bryant and Gianna were the last ones to leave the gym.
As much as Isabella competed with Gianna, they were friends as well. Gianna sent funny or basketball-themed videos to Isabella and was always encouraging of her basketball endeavors.
“When Gigi smiled, it lit up the room,” Marco said. “That’s something I’m gonna remember about Gigi forever. Her big smile like her dad. The same smile, they’re the same everything. Their game was similar, the way they walk, too, a similar way. They bit their jerseys. She wanted to be just like her dad.”
Isabella sat with her teammates on Friday night, but instead of being courtside for their own game, they were courtside for the Lakers’ game against the Trail Blazers.
Just like when she’s in the gym, Isabella cried a little, but smiled at the memory of Bryant and Gianna’s dedication and at the next moves she’s going to make in their honor.
“He believed in me so much that it’s like, maybe I’m, like, something,” she said. “He believed in me, and 11-year-old girl and it just shocks me that he died and I’m just making him proud. Just working out every day with my brother because that’s what he wanted, he would have wanted for all of us.”
Mamba Academy players gather around to celebrate with the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant. / Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Bui.
The Los Angeles Rams and KABC are teaming up to host a virtual Te'LA’thon, Tuesday, March 24, from 4 a.m. - 7 p.m., to assist Southern California response efforts during this unprecedented global health crisis.
Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner sent a note to fans including Lancaster Jethawks fans Saturday morning about ending spring training and postponing MiLB's season opener due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Los Angeles Clippers, LA Kings, LA Lakers and STAPLES Center have joined together to establish a fund to provide financial support to all hourly event staff employees impacted by the suspension of sporting events at STAPLES Center.
In keeping the health and best interests of cancer patients, survivors and Circle of Hope staff in mind, Circle of Hope has temporarily suspended services out of their office and Wellness Center in Newhall. The organization remains open offering its services and programs remotely.
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced Wednesday that the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California State Board of Education (SBE) have issued new guidance on graduation requirements and grading for seniors.
(CN) — As the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on economies around the world, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 6.6 million people applied for unemployment insurance benefits over the last week — roughly 2% of the country’s population.
Earthquake, fire, epidemic, pandemic are all real disasters. Are you ready? Have you prepared? If you’re still running to the store every other day, you’re not prepared, and you could be opening yourself up to infection.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital officials said Tuesday that they remain “in pretty good shape” as it pertains to their supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators, but that they are also preparing for the COVID-19 peak.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl ratifying an Executive Order which called for the County Health Officer to conduct an immediate assessment of the county’s jails to identify and implement measures to protect individuals and staff inside.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the “Stay Home - Save Lives - Check In” campaign on Tuesday urging Californians to help combat social isolation and food insecurity among California's seniors older than 65 – a community that is uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19.
While some have taken to the traditional thread and needle to contribute to the Million Masks challenge, Santa Clarita resident A.J. Apone and his father, Allan, have decided to make 3D printer technology work for them.
In the latest break between the Trump administration and California on environmental policy, officials decided Tuesday to give the state unprecedented control over a water plan that delivers water to more than 27 million residents.
New research on the significant gender imbalance in Hollywood reveals long-trends in female representation in the U.S. movie industry, specifically a sharp decline associated with the “studio system” in the Golden Age era, from about 1922 to 1950.