Kobe Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy is speaking out for the first time since the fatal Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others. The group, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna and her Mamba Sports Academy teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, had been traveling to a basketball game at the Academy when the crash occurred.
"The Mamba Sports Academy family is devastated by the passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other people lost on Sunday," the statement began. "We send our love and thoughts to the Bryant family and to the families and friends of Alyssa, John, and Keri Altobelli; Payton and Sarah Chester; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayan."
"Kobe Bryant was so much more than a partner in Mamba Sports Academy," the statement continued. "He was a caring father, husband, coach, and champion of youth sports. We mourn not only one of the greatest athletes of all time, but an active and engaged member of our community, and a visionary whose impact was only beginning to be felt by society. He will be remembered most for the care he placed and pleasure he took in educating the next generation, none more so than Gianna, Alyssa, Payton, and their Mamba teammates."
"Through the shared values of attention to detail, relentless pursuit of passions, and dedication to excellence, we remain committed to honoring Kobe's mission of inspiring the next generation of leaders in the world of sports and beyond," it added.
The statement went on to announce the creation of the the MambaOnThree fund, which Bryant's wife, Vanessa, had also announced in her Instagram post breaking her silence. The fund has been created "to support the other families affected by this tragedy." According to the fund’s website, all funds will go directly to the families.
"The MambaOnThree Fund was created to honor Team Mamba's mantra, 'Mamba on Three,'" the website reads. "It's with that customary chant for togetherness, sisterhood and the ability to take on every challenge that this fund was named."
The Mamba Sports Academy also encouraged "those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports" to visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.0comments
Located in Newbury, California, the Mamba Sports Academy officially reopened on Wednesday, three days after the fatal crash. Athletes returning to the facility were greeted by a growing memorial of flowers, balloons, and other items paying tribute to the nine lives lost, according to CBS Los Angeles.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating, which has been ruled an accident.