Lakers News: University Of Kentucky Selected As First Ever Kobe Bryant Mamba Program
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The memory of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna continue to live on through things such as the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. Since being founded in 2020, the non-profit has worked on numerous projects, but has also developed a relationship with the University of Kentucky basketball program and head coach John Calipari.

Last year, the university hosted Bryant’s oldest daughter Natalia and the organization for the Mamba Skills Academy, a free of charge basketball camp. Earlier this summer, the foundation gifted the Kentucky basketball team with Mambacita Kobe 4s before their trip to Toronto, and Calipari even received a personal gift from them back in May.

Now, that partnership will grow even further as the University of Kentucky has been selected as the first ever Mamba Program ahead of the 2023-24 basketball season, via Jack Pilgrim of KSR:

Kentucky has been selected as a Mamba Program ahead of the 2023-24 college basketball season, multiple sources tell KSR.

Vanessa Bryant — wife of the late Kobe Bryant — hand-picked the University of Kentucky as the first Mamba school in the partnership with Nike, a process over a year in the making now finalized. Several other programs are expected to join the fold over the course of the multi-year rollout.

What will the partnership look like? The Wildcats will wear exclusive Kentucky-themed Kobe sneakers and apparel this season, sources tell KSR. Special uniforms featuring the Mamba logo are also possible in the future.

Much like how the Jumpman brand is growing from shoes to now being a featured logo on jerseys throughout the NBA, the Mamba Program looks to do the same for the Lakers legend. Executive director Kat Conlon believes this will allow the stories of Kobe and Gianna to continue to be told:

“This is the first partnership with any university,” Kat Conlon, executive director of the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, told media in attendance. “Coach Calipari and Kobe Bryant had a very special relationship, so anything we can do with the foundation that continues to tell the stories of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, we are all game for it with the foundation.”

Vanessa Bryant has ensured that the Kobe Bryant brand and legacy has not gone by the wayside since his tragic death. This looks to be the first of many partnerships that will bear the Mamba name and brand.

Pau Gasol pays respect to Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant in Hall of Fame speech

One of Bryant’s closest Lakers teammates, Pau Gasol, was recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and he made sure to pay respect to his brother.

Gasol thanked Bryant for elevating his game and showing him what it took to win at that level before adding that he wouldn’t be there without him.

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