While Los Angeles and Philadelphia will mourn the one-year anniversary of the deaths of real son Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna on Tuesday, one of Bryant’s hometowns in the rest of the world will do the same.
Reggio Emilia, located about an hour’s drive east from Bologna in northern Italy, will unveil “Largo Kobe and Gianna Bryant”, a square dedicated to the man who spent several years of his youth living in a small town while his father, Joe Bryant , plays for Cantine Riunite, Reggio’s professional basketball team.
The city of Reggio Emilia and its citizens loved, first Joe, and then Kobe Bryant, the boy who, once he returned to America, always remembers Reggio with love, “Emanuele Maccaferri, vice president of the Sport Foundation of Reggio Emilia, said ESPN.” On a sad day. we want to remember the happy child who left great memories with so many people in Reggio Emilia. “
The space, which is located in the historic city center, will be commemorated with a plaque and a newly planted Ginkgo biloba tree in honor of the Bryants and is a walking trail used by fans who come and go to the city’s basketball arena.
When night falls, parts of the city will light up on Los angeles lakers‘purple and gold and the streaming event, “Reggiano Forever – Reggio Emilia remembers Kobe Bryant,” will be held in accordance with the COVID-19 protocol. New Orleans Pelicans Forward Nicolò Melli, who grew up in Reggio Emilia a decade after Bryant left – two NBA players from a city with a population of under 200,000 – will be the featured guests.
“The fact that we have the same gym teacher is because we all attended the same high school. The fact that we started our youth path in the same gym, that we had the same coaches. “This is an aspect that always makes me smile,” Melli said in a statement. “They make me in some ways even a little more proud of how my career got started.”
Christopher Ward, a childhood friend of Bryant, first got to know him in the late 1980s and they played with Reggio youth basketball team before Bryant and his family moved back to the United States in the early 1990s.
“OK, 90% of the time we are basketball oriented,” Ward told ESPN in an interview this week. “So, it’s playing in the backyard or in the gym or playing Nintendo basketball games or watching tapes every day – VHS. For example, Michael Jordan’s ‘Come Fly With Me’, the tape is shown 24/7 on TV … It’s all about football. basketball in any form of expression. “
Despite his growing basketball obsession, Bryant used to claim that when he returned to Philadelphia and played in the Sonny Hill Future League at the age of 12, he scored zero points all summer.
“I believe because there was a time when he left Italy and he came to America, the first few years were difficult for him because things were so different there,” Ward said when asked about Bryant’s memory. “He can barely speak slang and is a real cool American guy. He’s just European, Black European, goes to the state and is good at playing basketball, you gotta have him. [city] approach in the United States in the 90’s. “
The Bryant Ward knew had stolen goods, even as a child. So much so, that MC Hammer picked him out of the crowd when Bryant attended a hand-held pattern performer concert in Milan with his mother and sister.
“We found – Pamela [Bryant] and the girls told us – that MC Hammer called her on stage to dance with her, “Ward said.” I guess they have front row seats or whatever and he got called on stage to dance with MC Hammer because he’s really good at dancing [in his seat]. I remember it very clearly. “
Coordination appears on the basketball court as well.
“He’s a good basketball player. He knows what he has to do with his body,” Ward said. “But he was very thin at the time. Still very young. So he just had a problem with strength. But about technique and everything, he was amazing at basketball. He was like a big Kobe, grown up, in miniature. Amazing.”
Nearly 30 years after Bryant’s first encounter, Ward reunited with the adult NBA star in the Lakers’ dressing room, weeks before Bryant’s final game, as a guest of his old pal.
“I was a dreamer, like him, when we were little and dreamed of being there [in the NBA]. And finally I got there, “said Ward.” Through him, but I got there. So it’s very satisfying. “
Bryant welcomed a little bit of Italy in his life. Now Bryant’s old Italian residence will welcome his spirits forever.
“I know that only six or seven years Kobe lived in Italy, but the Italian period was very, very important to how Kobe became,” Ward said. “What he lives here, what he learns here, I think is very important to him in terms of culture and approach to things. … This is a sensibility that Kobe has that many other people don’t have.”
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