The teen was thrilled to have a photograph with the N.B.A star, an emotion perfectly immortalized in the picture by the wide grin across his face.
When Brady Smigiel snapped a blurry, impromptu selfie with his idol Kobe Bryant on Saturday, the 13-year-old had no idea it would one of the last photos of the basketball legend alive. The teen was thrilled to have a picture with the NBA star, an emotion perfectly immortalized in the picture by the wide grin across his face. Brady's excitement vanished the very next day when he heard of the devastating helicopter crash that killed Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others en route to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
Speaking to CNN, Brady's mother Dionne Reich Smigiel revealed that the teen woke up on Saturday thinking, "Let's go see Kobe before our games." He'd played in the Mamba Cup for Team Edge along with his twin brother Beau last weekend and both brothers are huge fans of the former Los Angeles Lakers player. "They are both obsessed with basketball and big fans of Kobe. Brady was writing to our 'family text' group all day. When we are in Newport Beach, Brady makes me drive by Kobe's gate just in hopes he might be driving out at the same time," said Smigiel.
When Brady Smigiel, 13, captured a blurry selfie with his idol, Kobe Bryant, on Saturday at the Mamba Sports Academy, he didn't know it probably would be one of the last photos of the NBA legend alive https://t.co/BSZci0IqT1— CNN (@CNN) January 29, 2020
According to the New York Times, Brady excitedly texted his family on Saturday afternoon that "Kobe gave me knuckles." The thrill of getting a reverberating fist bump from a five-time N.B.A. champion outshined the slight disappointment he felt when the father-of-four politely refused the teen's request for another photo. "I'll get you tomorrow," the legend promised Brady before leaving the building and heading for the helicopter that would take him home. Kobe had been at the Mamba Academy to coach Gianna's team—the Lady Mambas—which was also competing in the Mamba Cup.
In their first game, the Mambas lost, 46-29, to Cyfair Nikecoop 2024. Brady, who approached Kobe after this game for a selfie, told his mother the basketball icon seemed upset about the loss. "He said Kobe was 'mad they lost' and wouldn't take a pic but gave him knuckles," Smigiel revealed. In their second game on Saturday, the Lady Mambas earned a 35-29 win over Tree of Hope Lloyd from Seattle during which Gianna scored 5 points for the team. Payton Chester, one of the nine who would die in the crash, scored in the final moments to help clinch the victory.
Although Brady got another chance to ask for a Kobe selfie after the second game, the hurriedly snapped photo turned out to be rather blurry. "Kobe said, 'We'll get a better pic tomorrow,'" the teen's mother said. News of Kobe and Gianna's death the very next day of Brady's dream celeb encounter was a huge shock to the Smigiel family. "We are struggling. Kobe was such a presence in our little community of Newbury Park. My boys don't know how to process this. I woke up on Sunday and heard there was a helicopter crash in Calabasas and said to my family, 'Oh, my gosh, a helicopter just went down at the same time Kobe is supposed to arrive in Camarillo. Pray it's not him and Gigi.' Then an hour later we got the news. It's just all so sad," the teen's mother sighed.