By Sam P.K. Collins
Several dozen young people recently participated in a two-hour basketball clinic in celebration of a newly-refurbished basketball court named in honor of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
The state-of-the-art court, located at Oxon Run Park in Southeast, counts among several in the U.S. that BODYARMOR Sports Drink and The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation have refurbished.
On Saturday afternoon, elementary and middle school-aged boys and girls took the court, also dedicated to slain District youth Umar “Moo Moo” Cureton, and showcased their skills under the auspices of well-known basketball trainer Chris Brickley.
Parents, community members, Joachim Rogers of Coca-Cola Foundation and Ward 8 D.C. Councilmember Trayon White (D) counted among those who watched in awe as a DJ spun tunes from the early 2000s.
Brickley, who has trained University of Connecticut shooting guard Azzi Fudd, said he took a particular liking to the female athletes who demonstrated their skillset. Meanwhile, Rogers reveled in contributing to a cause in direct benefit to employees of Coca-Cola plants in the D.C. metropolitan area.
At a time when the pipeline to the NBA and WNBA gets more convoluted for young people without financial resources, some people like Kat Conlon, executive director of The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, remain focused on providing more opportunities and inspiration for young people in Ward 8 and similar U.S. communities.
“Our foundation is focused on supporting boys and girls in sports and underserved athletes,” Conlon said about a vision the elder Bryant manifested after retiring in 2016.
“To come to D.C. and show some love in honor of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, they would be proud. We love to level the playing field for all boys and girls. We do camps and clinics so people can enjoy the game that Kobe and Gianna loved so much.”
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