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New Anaheim ‘Dream Court’ Honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant Draws Crowds

PUBLISHED May 5, 2022 | News

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Basketball fans are traveling from around the region to visit a new “Dream Court” at Pearson Park in Anaheim, Calif., created in honor of late basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.

The court opened on what would have been Gianna Bryant’s 16th birthday on May 1. The father and daughter died together in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., in January 2020.

The court has been well-received by the community since its opening, according to Mike Lyster, spokesman for the City of Anaheim.

“Reaction has been incredible,” Lyster told The Epoch Times. “It is getting high usage. People are traveling here just to see it.”

Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant was a cheerleader for St. Boniface Parochial School in Anaheim, which used Pearson Park for its football games.

During the opening event on May 1, she thanked those who came out to dedicate the new court.

“Thank you for being here on my daughter Gianna’s 16th birthday,” Vanessa Bryant told the crowd. “I’m especially happy this court honors my daughter Gianna and my husband Kobe.”

Wearing a full-length black dress and sandals, the grieving widow asked those who played on the court to remember her husband and daughter while holding back tears at different times during her speech.

“When you play, remember Kobe and Gigi and give it everything you have,” she said. “All the time, every day, on and off the court, play Gigi’s way. Happy birthday, Gigi.”

During the dedication, the city also unveiled a public art installation of a butterfly-shaped sculpture next to the new court. The piece features portraits of the father and daughter with their jersey numbers.

The name Vanessa means butterfly, one presenter said, adding that the court’s opening was the perfect opportunity to honor Gigi and Kobe, and the legacy Vanessa Bryant is continuing.

Children from the Anaheim Family YMCA attended the ceremony. They all received new Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16” sneakers before playing in a short clinic on the new court.

Painted in Lakers’ purple and gold colors, the Pearson Park Dream Court is decorated with images of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The court is of high-school regulation size with two new basketball goals and a new surface from Sport Court, a basketball industry flooring company.

Nancy Lieberman Charities and Sport Court teamed up with the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, headed by Vanessa Bryant, to gift the basketball court to the Anaheim community.

“The Dream Court is extraordinarily special because of the friendship I had with Kobe,” Nancy Lieberman, Basketball Hall of Famer and founder of Nancy Lieberman Charities, told the opening’s crowd.

“Vanessa and Kobe created their dreams in the Anaheim community and I hope that children enjoy our Dream Court for many decades allowing them to soar in any direction they choose,” Lieberman said.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu and Councilmembers Jose Moreno, Gloria Ma’ae, and Steve Faessel also attended the ceremony.

“The Bryant Family has always had a special tie to Anaheim,” Sidhu said at the event. “This court is a lasting legacy of that connection and will introduce a new generation of Anaheim kids to the joy of basketball.”

The Anaheim Dream Court is the 110th court of its kind created in the U.S. Other dream courts are in Oakland, Calif., Dallas, New Orleans, and Milwaukee, Wis.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant died on January 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were in crashed into the side of a mountain. Kobe Bryant was 41 at the time, and Gianna was 13.

The two were about 30 miles north of Los Angeles traveling with other passengers to Gianna Bryant’s basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when the helicopter crashed in foggy conditions.

Kobe Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996 to 2016, winning five NBA championships and the 2008 Most Valuable Player award.

The much-admired basketball star was posthumously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May 2021.