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Sports Academy drops ‘Mamba’ name out of respect for Bryant

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(FILES) In this file photo fans react at a memorial for the NBA legend Kobe Bryant outside the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California on January 27, 2020 after the helicopter crash that killed 9 people including Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna Maria. – The Mamba Sports Academy is retiring “Mamba” from its name out of respect for the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Academy chief executive Chad Faulkner announced the move on May 12, saying Bryant’s legacy should live on “on its own.” (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)

The Mamba Sports Academy is retiring “Mamba” from its name out of respect for the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Academy chief executive Chad Faulkner announced the move on Tuesday, saying Bryant’s legacy should live on “on its own.”

Faulkner and Bryant had launched a joint athletic training and business venture in 2018, and the academy, located in Thousand Oaks west of Los Angeles, was part of it.

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Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people as they were headed to the academy, where Bryant was going to coach Gianna in a youth basketball game.

“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one,” Faulkner told The Undefeated on Tuesday. “And with that as we carry on as the Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivalled, frankly, and let that live on its own.”

Bryant won five NBA titles in a 20-year career all spent with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 18-time All-Star, who won one season MVP and two Finals MVP awards, dubbed himself the “Black Mamba” and spoke of the “Mamba mentality” in his pursuit of excellence.

His daughter Gianna, a budding basketball star, was affectionately known as “Mambacita” and Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has renamed the family’s charitable foundation supporting youth sports the Mamba & Mambacita Sports foundation.

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