At Mamba Academy: Players, coaches learned of helicopter tragedy together

first_img“It was horrible inside,” she said. “So silent you could hear a pin drop. It didn’t make sense. Everyone was doing the same thing in groups praying and crying.”Boys and girls basketball players were in huddles trying to comfort each other. Sherri said people were crying and screaming. Coaches were on their knees too, trying to console their respective players.In a video from the scene, a woman began to weep and pray out loud. Another man followed with words of encouragement, and a message of how important it is to love one another, especially when moments like Sunday morning show how fragile life can be.“I was shaking,” Sherri said. “It was dramatic. It also made me realize how nothing is promised. We all just assumed Kobe was going to be there the next day.”Mike Noble, 47, coaches his son Brennan’s under-11 basketball team. Noble’s team played at 11 a.m. Saturday, right before Gianna’s game.“We stuck around to watch greatness,” Noble said. “He coached like Phil Jackson, not super verbal. But when he spoke everyone listened.”Noble was 10 feet from his door Sunday morning as he and his son were planning to watch Kobe again before their own game at 1 p.m. when he got the news.“I dropped to my knees right there,” Noble said. “I never made it to the door, never made it out of the house. We stayed home and watched all the coverage. I was devastated. I had just seen him the day before. It was all fresh to me.”The scheduled games for the rest of Sunday were canceled. Fans came in droves to the facility to pay their respects within hours of the news, creating a makeshift memorial made up of flowers, pictures and other memorabilia. Some even left jerseys, shoes and basketballs.The Mamba Sports Academy closed Sunday through Tuesday, but had plans to open on Wednesday. The general operation of the facility is centered around practices and training session for various sports throughout the weekdays. Tournaments and clinics are usually held over the weekends. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSherri Rosenthal believes she was one of the first in the gym to find out via text message.“I walked up to a young lady that was working there and showed the text I just received,” Sherri Rosenthal explained. “She looked at me like I was crazy. I then showed it to a couple other gentlemen that looked familiar, they didn’t believe me either. As I looked up, everyone around seemed to be getting the same news. All the games stopped.”All activity in the facility came to a halt.The festive atmosphere quickly turned somber. The 100,000 square-foot facility that houses five basketball courts, five volleyball courts, two beach volleyball courts and a turf field was filled with hundreds of athletes on their knees.Madison Murray, 22, an employee of the Mamba Sports Academy and local soccer athlete was inside the facility Sunday morning when news spread about the helicopter accident.center_img Sunday morning, in anticipation of Kobe Bryant’s arrival, mother Sherri Rosenthal brought her sons Blake and Shane to the Mamba Sports Academy. Kobe was going to coach and his 13-year old daughter Gianna was going to play.It was the second straight day that 15-year old Blake was hopeful for a picture with the NBA legend. But that’s when news broke of Kobe’s helicopter crash, which killed him, Gianna and seven others, including two Mamba teammates.Less than 24 hours earlier, on Saturday, Blake approached Kobe for a photo opportunity, but Kobe politely declined with a smile and nod before instructing Blake to wait until after Gianna’s game. Blake waited. After the game, Kobe was in a rush and told Blake to come back Sunday to take the photo with him then.Kobe and Gianna never made it to the facility on Sunday.last_img

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