Sabrina Ionescu: 'Hopefully' Inspired People with Kobe Bryant Memorial Speech

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 14, 2020

US college basketball player Sabrina Ionescu speaks during the

New York Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu, who spoke at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's Celebration of Life in February, reflected on that experience with Turner Sports' Ernie Johnson on Tuesday:


“I hopefully was just able to inspire everyone to have that same feeling I did with him.” @sabrina_i20 reflects on speaking at Kobe’s memorial service on #NBATogether with @TurnerSportsEJ https://t.co/WVkrXmfFDs

Ionescu, a former University of Oregon star, developed a friendship with the Los Angeles Lakers legend, who died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others on January 26.

After she was drafted No. 1 overall to the Libs in the 2020 WNBA draft, Ionescu posted the following tribute to Bryant on Instagram:

Def Pen Hoops @DefPenHoops

Sabrina reflects on her friendship with Kobe after going #1 💜💛 (📸 via @sabrina_i20 / IG) https://t.co/UY2poiuvG3

As Emily Carson of Sporting News noted, Bryant and Ionescu met in January 2019 after the Ducks beat the USC Trojans 95-53.

Later that summer, Ionescu helped coach Bryant's AAU team, the Mamba Ballers. And during the 2019-20 season, Ionescu and Bryant kept in touch as the Oregon point guard nearly averaged a triple-double for the year en route to winning the Naismith Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year awards for the Pac-12-winning Ducks.

Ionescu was among a host of luminaries to speak at the Celebration of Life, including NBA legends Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant's wife, Vanessa.