The Mamba Sports Academy announced on Monday that it has removed the word "Mamba" from its name out of respect for the late Kobe Bryant. The former Los Angeles Lakers star was one of nine people that died on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The reason for removing the name was out of respect for Bryant's "unparalleled legacy," the academy said.
"Like tens of millions of fans around the globe, Sports Academy’s world drastically changed on January 26, 2020," the company said in a statement. "Today, with respect for an unparalleled legacy, the Academy will retire the 'Mamba' in the Mamba Sports Academy name — to raise it to the rafters, where it belongs. In doing so, Sports Academy will carry on the vision it curated during that special partnership." The word "Mamba" references Bryant's nickname of "The Black Mamba."
Originally founded in 2016 by Chad Faulkner, the Sports Academy had the mission of elevating human performance. Bryant became involved in 2018 through a partnership, which led to the name change. Now the Sports Academy will be "raising the Mamba name into the rafters" but will continue striving to put into practice what Bryant taught during this partnership.
"Sports Academy's mission remains unchanged. Sports Academy is still here to transform the way each of us approach human performance," the statement continued. "Sports Academy is still here to support current professionals and guide the next generation of athletes. Sports Academy is still here to provide an integrated and full-circle approach to training."
According to ESPN, Bryant hosted a workout and a classroom tutorial for several NBA players at the Thousand Oaks location during the last offseason. The list of attendees included Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Jamal Murray, De'Aaron Fox, Tobias Harris, Isaiah Thomas and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bryant also hosted WNBA players from Jan. 13 to 15. Lakers' assistant coach Phil Handy hopes to hold similar events for NBA and WNBA players in the future, and Faulkner is open to this plan.
While the Sports Academy will no longer bear the Mamba name, Faulkner will still strive to honor Bryant's memory. Continuing education is one method, but the Sports Academy founder also plans on placing a memorial to the five-time NBA champion at both locations — though he will only do so if Bryant's wife, Vanessa, and the family give their blessing.
"That will really end up being up to the desires of the family and to the respect of the family," Faulkner said. "For us, we leave that up to the future. This is such a critical time for the family to keep working through the grieving process and everything they're working for. We are going to play really conservative from that approach. We are all for it. ... But it's really not necessarily the right thing for us to do proactively."