The Aces received a personal visit from alumnus, friend and family member Kobe Bryant '96 on Friday afternoon. After touring his alma mater and reconnecting with teachers and students, Kobe gathered the team behind closed doors in the locker room and delivered a spirited pep talk in advance of the state playoff opener against Carlisle (Saturday, 4:30 PM - Spring-Ford HS). Among his messages to the team: focus, play hard and have fun.
He also answered questions and talked hoops with all members of both the boys and girls programs (9th, JV and Varsity) and implored the Dawg Pound and Aces Nation to show up in full effect at tomorrow's game.
As always, Kobe was generous with his time and energy, spending nearly two hours at LM before heading back to his hotel and preparing for a Friday night match-up between his Lakers and the Sixers. For the team, and for Aces Nation, it was an exciting and memorable event, illustrative of the love Kobe feels for the Maroon & White.
Friday marked Kobe's third visit to school in the past year, including last summer's heavily-attended basketball clinic for area youth. In addition to his regular returns to campus, Kobe maintains close contact with the players and coaching staff throughout the season via email and phone, and added a new element to his "good luck" communications this season -- online video messages -- with help from the staff at his new marketing and advertising firm, Zambezi Ink. Kobe also donates Nike gear to both girls and boys athletic teams at LM.
Additional highlights of Kobe's visit included the presentation of a thank-you card and Aces winter jacket from senior co-captain Adam Ellison - a taping of the morning announcements featuring Kobe and student co-anchor Sam Berkovitz '09 - and some quality time with humanities teacher Jeanne Mastriano. Kobe was at school on Thursday as well, and showed off his Spanish skills with Sra. Betegh, "It helps having a Latina wife," he said, "If I was taking Spanish now, I definitely would've gotten an A."
Hopefully, the Aces will give an "A" effort on Saturday. Mamba wouldn't have it any other way.
A photo gallery has been published for this event in the Aces Gallery.
Click for more online images (Yahoo! Sports)