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August 27, 2021

Two new basketball courts honoring Kobe, Gianna Bryant coming to West Philly this fall

The project is spearheaded by the foundation that was started in tribute to the late Hall of Famer and his daughter

Kobe Bryant's far-reaching basketball legacy will now become further cemented at Tustin Playground in West Philly.

Two new basketball courts honoring the late Hall of Famer and his daughter Gianna are coming to the Overbrook park this fall, the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation said. The foundation was started in honor of the Black Mamba and his daughter after both were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in January 2020.

A young Kobe Bryant often hooped at Tustin Playground, located at 5901 W. Columbia Ave., when he was living in the Philly area, according to the foundation.

"The legacy project in honor and memory of Kobe and Gianna will serve as a safe play space for youth in the community to interact with friends and family," the foundation wrote. "Finding spaces for youth to come together in peace through the love of sports is important to the Bryant family."

The project is in partnership with Nancy Lieberman Charities, a nonprofit organization founded by the Basketball Hall of Famer to provide fitness, health and educational opportunities to underprivileged children. 

"Our deepest appreciation to Vanessa Bryant, The Bryant Family, Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, Nancy Lieberman, Nancy Lieberman Charities and everyone who will make this project possible," Philadelphia Parks and Recreation officials wrote.

The two new basketball courts are being developed under the Dream Courts umbrella of Lieberman's charity, which aims to make basketball more accessible to children. A "dream court" is also being brought to Vanessa Bryant's hometown of Anaheim, California, according to the foundation.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, but he grew up overseas as his father continued his own professional basketball career in Italy.

The NBA superstar then moved back home and starred in basketball at Lower Merion High School from 1992-1996. He helped lead Lower Merion to the PIAA boys basketball state championship in his senior season. He also was named a McDonald's All-American, the Naismith High School Player of the Year and Gatorade Men's National Basketball Player of the Year in 1996. 

Bryant finished his high school career with 2,883 points and had his No. 33 jersey retired by Lower Merion. 

The Lakers legend remained connected to his alma mater after his high school career ended. Bryant was a benefactor to the school, and Lower Merion's gymnasium is named after him. 

Kobe Bryant was 41 and Gianna Bryant was 13 when both were killed in a helicopter crash January 2020. Seven other victims in the crash were teammates on Gianna Bryant's basketball team, their parents and the helicopter pilot.

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