The girls’ basketball team at Discovery Prep High School in Sylmar knew of Bryant more from watching videos than seeing actual games. But they also know that Bryant was a big supporter of girls’ and women’s basketball.
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the team donned warmup shirts made specifically in tribute to Bryant, before its scheduled game against Sun Valley Magnet High.
“I got to see him play once, at Staples Center. It was one of his last games,” said Noelani Belmontes, 17, a senior. “He was a good player. I know he helped out a lot of kids who want to play basketball. The two people I really admire are Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. My brothers loved to play basketball and they kinda dragged me into it. But Kobe is (her) inspiration.”
“I only got to see him on TV, but he still inspires me,” said Susan Betancourt, 18, a senior. “He put a lot of effort into his work. To me, it’s the way he treated his work. It was something he loved. If you do something you love, you’ll end up victorious.”
Jasmine Ingram, 14, a freshman, said she first heard about Bryant from her family because “they are big Kobe fans.” But when Ingram decided to play basketball, she said she did her own research on players to try and model herself after.
Bryant became her inspiration as well.
“I wanted to know about him to teach me about basketball. But it wasn’t just basketball. He taught me to cherish life,” she said. “If I need something, I want to do something, I should believe in myself and follow my dreams — because that’s what he did. I think it’s really cool that he’s an inspiration on the court and off the court.”