“The Missing Piece”- When Zach Randolph’s Daughter Played for Kobe Bryant at The Mamba Academy

Published 07/16/2021, 2:30 PM EDT
NEWBURY PARK, CA – MARCH 28: SiriusXM Presents A Town Hall With NBA Legend Kobe Bryant at the Mamba Sports Academy on March 28, 2019 in Newbury Park, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SiriusXM)


Kobe Bryant, after moving on from a glorious 20-year career with the LA Lakers, looked to bring the same tenacity in his next chapter. The former 5-time NBA champion & 2-time Finals-MVP moved on to nurture future talent after basketball. In his second career, Bryant also tasted success, winning an Oscar for an emotional tribute to a GOAT-like career.

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Kobe was always vocal in his support for investing in the game’s growth, especially the women’s league. In line with his vision for the WNBA, the Mamba launched the ‘Mamba Sports Academy’. The goal was simple: to extract an athlete’s potential the Mamba way.

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Bryant was heavily invested in spearheading the academy, while also developing the talent and passion his second-born Gianna Bryant showed for the game. His mantra at the academy taught the aspiring athletes to be obsessive about their craft, as they dreamed to make it to the NBA.

Zach Randolph on Kobe Bryant & the Mamba Academy

Former NBA All-Star Zach Randolph in an appearance on the All the Smoke podcast hosted by Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson opened up about an incident pertaining to his daughter MacKenly Randolph trying out for Kobe’s Mamba Academy.

Randolph spoke about the conversation, quoting MacKenly. “Daddy I wanna play for Kobe. You think I can play for his team?” Like any other father catering to his children’s dreams, Randolph reached out to Bryant in 2018-19 for getting his daughter a shot at making Bryant’s team.

IRVINE, CA – JULY 26: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

When he asked if his daughter could play for the Mamba, Kobe responded – “Look she can come, we’ll see how it goes.” In fact, as it played out, MacKinley turned out to fit hand in glove. Randolph added – “I think one of the big’s was hurt. And MacKinley came in man, she was the missing piece, Kobe loved her man.

Zach then went on to show the Late Mamba some love. He concluded by saying – “When he told me he loved my baby, I told him I love you. I said you love mine, I love you. That’s how it was. Nothing but love and respect.”

Leaving behind a legacy

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That fateful morning on January 26, 2020, left the world mourning as the passing of the Late Mamba was a case of being gone too soon. And while Kobe Bryant may not have lived to see the impact that his pursuit of the GOAT mountain left behind, rest assured his legacy remains alive and well, in every young athlete who grew up shooting jumpers calling “Kobe”.

Watch this story – Best NBA Championship Celebrations That Includes Kobe Bryant’s Iconic Pictures, LeBron James Emotional Breakdown & More

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Nikhil Naik

72 articles

Nikhil Naik is an NBA writer at EssentialySports. Having completed his bachelor's degree in Hospitality, he has worked with the Indian Hotels Company Limited, at the Taj in Mumbai. Nikhil has been playing basketball since 2014.

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