Kobe Bryant was more than a basketball star and proud father. He also supported kids in a variety of inspiring ways.

By Maressa Brown
January 27, 2020

The world is mourning the loss of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna who tragically died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The beloved athlete, who was 41, is survived  by his wife, Vanessa, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

As fans and admirers look back on the star's legacy (which some have noted is complicated), they're taking heart in all the light, joy, and inspiration that Bryant brought specifically to young people. Here, several ways Bryant supported kids.

Retired NBA Player Kobe Bryant talks with girls at the Her Time To Play basketball clinic hosted by JR.NBA and WNBA with on March 28, 2019 at Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, California.
Retired NBA Player Kobe Bryant talks with girls at the Her Time To Play basketball clinic hosted by JR.NBA and WNBA with on March 28, 2019 at Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, California.
| Credit: Will Navarro/NBAE via Getty Images

He Made an Impact With His Own Foundation

Bryant and his wife founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation to bolster the lives of young people and their families worldwide through financial resources and unique programs. KVBF provides scholarships and operates a youth soccer club called Mamba FC, which aims to support young athletes' leadership.

What's more, since 2011, KVBF has partnered with the United Way of Greater Los AngelesStep Up on Second, and homeless youth drop-in center My Friend's Place to provide comprehensive services to homeless kids in Los Angeles.

He Founded the Mamba Sports Academy

The training facility Bryant founded in 2018 features youth programs that are "dedicated to developing the potential of boys and girls both on and off field." According to the Academy's site, "We incorporate physical activity with emotional, social, and mental growth in order to enhance every athlete’s skill set."

Youth basketball players who had been awaiting his and Gianna's arrival on Sunday at the Academy for a tournament were grief-stricken upon learning the heartbreaking news.

He Encouraged Parents to "Get Out of the Way"

At the Aspen Institute’s 2018 Project Play Summit, Bryant remarked how structured youth sports have become and urged adults to “get out of the way” and allow children to foster their imaginations. He visited the Newseum in Washington D.C. and told an audience of more than 400, “Sometimes the most important thing you can do is just to observe. You just watch and then you can guide. Get out of the way, observe, listen, and guide.”

Bryant said the best coaches he had were never condescending, they were not abusive with how they taught the game, and they encouraged questions.

He Supported the After-School All-Stars

Since 2007, Bryant had been a national ambassador for After-School All-Stars, a non-profit organization that partners with schools nationwide to offer after-school programs for low-income children. He spoke out frequently on after-school programming for all and raised money for the Los Angeles chapter of the organization.

He Supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation

The basketball legend had granted over 200 wishes for children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On its Facebook page, the Foundation once called Bryant "an amazing wish granter who has brought countless smiles to our wish kids and their families."

He Inspired Kids Through Art

Bryant's Oscar-winning short film, Dear Basketball, which can be watched here, details his dedication to the game since he was a young child. He went on to found a multimedia production company called Granity Studios. He said in a statement in 2018 that he was committed to "building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters and leadership in order to inspire the next generation."