Sports academy to honour Kobe Bryant by dropping the name ‘Mamba’

Sep 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) answers questions during media day at the team practice facility in El Segundo [Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports]

The Mamba Sports Academy will drop the name ‘Mamba’ in honour of departed NBA star Kobe Bryant, media in the US reports. 

In a statement seen on Tuesday, the academy explained why it was dropping the name. 

"Like tens of millions of fans around the globe, Sports Academy's world drastically changed on January 26, 2020. 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 academy said in a statement.

Bryant and Chad Faulkner, the Sports Academy CEO started Academy in 2018. They set locations in Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach. 

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among the nine people that died following a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, January 26, 2020.

The group was headed to Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball game where Gianna was expected to play, with her dad Kobe expected to coach.

Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed everyone on board died during a news conference.

According to Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles County Fire Department chief, the helicopter crashed 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, causing a bush fire.

They include Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan, the pilot.

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and Daughter Alyssa were among those who lost their lives. Altobelli is an ex-assistant baseball coach at the University of Houston.

Kobe’s daughter Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy.  

Also killed was Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar, California.

"My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash," her husband posted on Facebook.

A news release from Orange Coach College Pirate Ahletics paid tribute to Altobelli, whom they described as a mentor.

"It's hard to put into words what this loss means to the college and the athletics department. John was a tremendous coach and an even better friend. Beyond that, he was an amazing mentor to all of the students and athletes that he taught and coached. He treated them all like family and his impact will live on forever," read the release.

Payton Chester, Gianna’s teammate and her mother Sarah Chester were also identified as crash victims.

Also killed was 50-year-old pilot Ara Zobayan.