'He was like Hercules to me': Girl, 12, wants to continue Kobe and Gianna Bryant's legacy

For many, Kobe Bryant was a hard worker both on and off the court. Through programs like the Sports Academy and the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation young girls were able to pursue their dreams in sports. 

For 12-year-old Isabella "Jiggy" Escribano, NBA legend Kobe Bryant was inspirational. 

When she was just 11-years-old she got a call from a Lakers assistant coach saying Kobe Bryant wanted her on Team Mamba. She said Bryant was interested in her after watching a video of her practicing with J.R. Smith who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the time. 

To play on Team Mamba was something she couldn’t pass up. 

"It was a weird shock to me but meeting him was like I got a little star-struck, he was like Hercules to me, like one of the Gods," Isabella told FOX 11. 

Isabella was recruited to be on the 6th-grade team that Kobe would be coaching, but as the team was building up with new players, she was so talented, she was able to practice with the 8th-grade team that included Gianna Bryant on the roster.

"In the meantime, I was just practicing with the 8th graders. And I would scrimmage with them every weekend," she said. 

She says playing on Team Mamba alongside Gigi is something she will never forget. 

Isabella’s motivation was seeing Gigi on the court every day and wanting to play along with her. 

She describes Gigi as being "determined."

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"When I practiced with her I knew she really loved basketball, she was really determined to work hard."

And to her, that’s what Mamba mentality means… being determined and always wanting more.

Since the passing of Kobe and Gigi, Isabella hopes to carry on their message and goal of getting young girls involved in sports.

"I just want to finish what they started in girls’ basketball. I feel like that’s me and my brother’s job now is just finishing their job. I want to show girls they can do anything they want. It could be outside of basketball, outside of sports. Anything you put your mind to you can do it," Isabella stated. 

The goal for this 12-year-old is to be the number one draft pick for the WNBA. 

"I feel like he was inspirational not just to basketball but also a lot of other sports, and a lot of other kids that wanted to play sports. And Mamba mentality isn’t just for sports."

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