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June 16, 2022

Basketball court dedicated to Kobe, Gianna Bryant opens in West Philadelphia

The late NBA player's wife Vanessa attended the event at Tustin Playground with her three daughters

A mural of the late NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Overbrook Park makes it seem like the two are watching over a new basketball court built in their honor.

The addition to Tustin Playground was unveiled on Tuesday and Bryant's wife, Vanessa, attended the event with her daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. The court was created in a partnership between the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation and Nancy Lieberman Charities.

Bryant, a record-setting shooting guard, was killed in a California helicopter crash in January 2020 with Gianna and seven others. He was born in Philadelphia and grew up coming to the park, which is why his wife picked it for a memorial. 

"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," Vanessa said in an Instagram post.

The court has "Kobe & Gianna Bryant" written in the half court circle and Bryant's No. 24 in a heart next to each foul line. It also features a purple and yellow color scheme in honor of the two decades Bryant spent with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The painting was done by Ernel Martinez, an artist and educator who has worked on nearly 30 projects around the city with Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Bryant moved away from Philadelphia as a young boy so his father, Joe, could play professional basketball in Italy. The family moved back to Montgomery County when he was a teen, where he played basketball for the Lower Merion High School Aces from 1992 to 1996. He led the team to a PIAA boys basketball state championship in his senior year. Bryant's wife wore his letterman jacket from the school at the dedication.

The basketball court is one of three Bryant's wife has undertaken so far with the help of the two charities. The first Kobe & Gianna Bryant Dream Court opened in Anaheim, California, last month.