Kobe Bryant did a lot to inspire up-and-coming athletes throughout his career. Even after Kobe retired from basketball, one of his many accomplishments was the creation of the Mamba Sports Foundation, which the five-time NBA champ brought to life in order to provide sports programs to underserved communities.  Soon, however, the Mamba Sports Foundation will no longer exist.  Instead, and more fitting, what’s coming is the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Behind The Kobe Foundation Name Change

The change of name is being brought about by Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant.  The new designation is meant to honor the Bryants’ 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who died alongside her father when their helicopter crashed on the way to a sporting event a few weeks ago.  Just like her father, Gianna was a true talent on the basketball court and a rising star in the game, and the two were on their way to a game for Gianna’s team, which Kobe coached, when the accident occurred.

According to its website, the foundation is tasked with ” creating a positive impact through sports.” It also works to develop “learning skills, enhancing character traits, and expanding personal values that ultimately empower and inspire self-confidence.”

Vanessa Bryant announced the name change yesterday, adding on Instagram, “Because there is no #24 without #2, we have updated the Mamba Sports Foundation to now be called the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.  Our mission remains the same – and stronger than ever – to provide opportunities to young people through sports.”  24 and 2 were the jersey numbers of Kobe and Gianna, respectively.

What Else Will Change?

In addition to funneling energy and funds to help underprivileged youth, the newly renamed Mamba and Mambacita Foundation will continue to provide scholarships and contributions to athletes so they can participate in league or school teams.  It also provides financial support for sports programs designed for young female athletes.

Vanessa added in her announcement, “Thank you all for the outpouring of support and your kind donations to date as we carry forth Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.  We hope to empower young athletes in a world they left us all to help shape.”  The name change is being implemented ahead of a public memorial services for the victims of the helicopter accident scheduled for February 24 at the Staples Center in LA.

Kobe began using the moniker “Black Mamba” when he was about halfway through his 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers.  He said at the time that he picked it off after being inspired by the Kill Bill movies and the codename for the character Beattrix Kiddo in the films.  Kiddo was the world’s deadliest assassin, and, as Bryant was the deadliest player on the basketball court, it was a fitting name.  Gianna, with all of her father’s basketball talent, naturally became Mambacita.

Kobe and Gianna were in the helicopter with John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan when it suddenly crashed on January 26.  The accident is still being investigated and the cause of the crash is still not known.  However, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, there does not appear to be any evidence of engine failure, but the full investigation could take a year or longer until it is complete.  No additional details have been released regarding the incident, and it’s possible that there won’t be any updates at all until after the complete investigation has wrapped up.

Donations to help the victims’ families can be made to the Mamba on Three Fund, and contributions to the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation to help support its causes are always welcome.  Vanessa will carry on the Kobe Bryant legacy through the Foundation alongside their children, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3 and 7-month-old Capri.