Five-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant, celebrated the inaugural season of Mamba League NYC with a surprise appearance at the Children’s Aid Dunlevy Milbank Center in Harlem. Mamba League is an eight-week youth basketball league in Los Angeles and New York City that helps kids ages 8-10 learn basketball fundamentals, develop self-confidence, and practice teamwork.
“I started Mamba League to help kids develop basketball skills and life skills,” Bryant said about his passion for expanding the league to New York City, where he honed his skills early in his career on world-renowned public street courts. “Our line for the league is ‘play, learn, and grow.’ This is really important to me and reflects what I want to share with the kids about my own journey—that through playing the game of basketball across courts in New York City, I learned not just about the game, but about myself and others, and through that process you grow, as an athlete and as a person.”
Mamba League participants and sites are all equipped to play the game. Youth players receive jerseys, coaches are outfitted with polos, and each site is equipped with youth-sized basketballs, an adjustable rim, coaches training, and a practice guide.
In an effort to level the playing field, the program strives for coaches and players to be 50 percent women and girls, with coaches from the community trained in both basketball fundamentals and social-emotional development skills.
“The Mamba League is a fun league for kids to learn the game, have fun, and understand the connection that the game has with life in general—hopefully learning some of the work ethic it takes to become a better basketball player and convert that into a being better son, a better daughter, and a better student,” said Bryant.
The partnership between Nike, Bryant, and Children’s Aid launched with more than 250 kids on the court in Milbank, Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School in the south Bronx, and Goodhue Center in Staten Island.
“We are incredibly grateful for this partnership with Nike and Kobe Bryant,” said Phoebe Boyer, CEO of Children’s Aid. “Mamba League is helping kids get moving through play and sport at a time when our youngest generation is the least active in history. The league gives boys and girls the opportunity to learn important life skills to lead healthier, happier, and more successful lives.”