Natalia Bryant, eldest daughter of the late Kobe Bryant, joined Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi and a group of kids from the Mesa Grant Woods Boys & Girls Clubs at the unveiling of a refurbished basketball court in Mesa. (Josh Ortega/Tribune Staff Writer)

Bodyarmor Sports Drink and The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation last week unveiled the newly refurbished basketball court at a Mesa Boys & Girls Club.

The two entities partnered with the Mesa Grant Woods Boys & Girls Clubs at 221 West Sixth Ave., Mesa. “to give them hope that they can do big things when they grow up,” Grace Hill said. “

Grace and Don Hill moved to the neighborhood near the Boys & Girls Club six years ago with their six kids. 

Don played baseball, football, basketball and ran track & field growing up and tries to continue that enthusiasm through volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club for the past year. 

Don said he wants to help his kids on the same path as he did with having fun playing sports.

“I try to keep all the kids down that same line and just being open so that way they can find their strengths in each and every sport that they like,” Don said.  

The new court features a special design created in collaboration with Bodyarmor &  MMSF that incorporates colors and symbols meaningful to Kobe and Gianna’s legacy. In addition to the court, the event also unveiled a mural honoring the legacies of Kobe and Gigi.

Kobe’s oldest daughter, Natalia Bryant, attended the event to cut the ribbon and lead a Q&A session with Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi.

Bryant told of her life growing up in an athletic family and the role sports played in teaching her and her sisters how to communicate.

“Through any kind of sport you will learn how to communicate with others and every family is composed of a team,” Bryant said. “Whether you have a big family, small family, everybody’s a team player.”

Bryant also encouraged the kids that they can have dreams.

“If you reach for the moon you’ll land on the stars,” Bryant said. 

Taurasi remembers playing on a court similar to this one and said what great life  characteristics sports bring out in people including persistence and hard work 

“Anytime I come back to an outdoor court and I see young athletes, it’s the fondest memories I have of playing basketball,” Taurasi said.

Tara Piper, vice president of sports and entertainment marketing at Bodyarmor said they officially partnered with MMSF earlier in the year to “hydrating athletes, funding youth clinics and refurbishing several sporting facilities across the country.”

This court is number seven of 10 locations in the country planned for this kind of renovation this year.

“We just thought it was the perfect tribute to our relationship with [Kobe] to go ahead and give back and ensure that these kids know they can dream bigger and that they can do anything they want,” Piper said.

President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley Marcia Mintz said they’ve partnered with Bodyarmor for several years and the sports drink approached them with this idea. 

Mintz said they scoured the state for the “right location” to build a court.

“We could not think of a better location than right here in Mesa at this particular club,” Mintz said. “Our kids are really active and into sports, and we wanted to give them that access and opportunity to always be playing.”

Mayor John Giles attended the event and said this facility has become a point of pride in the community with the refurbished basketball court design and Kobe Bryant mural. 

“It’s taken a place that’s very strategic, very important in our community and really elevated it and made it even cooler than it was before,” Giles said. 

Giles said that having recognizable figures such as Natalia and Diana will become a memory the kids and the community will carry with them every time they walk on to that court. 

“It’s really creating a legacy here that the Kobe Bryant and his influence is going to be felt here for a long time,” Giles said.

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