“Mother of Defense”: Remembering Orange County Coach Who Passed Away Alongside Kobe Bryant in Tragic Incident 4 Years Ago

Published 01/27/2024, 11:23 AM EST

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The tragedy of 26 January 2020 still hurts. Nine lives were lost, including the NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant. The loss was immense for the Orange County basketball community. The late legend was steadily cultivating the best basketball players who were destined for greatness.

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Christina Mauser, assistant coach for the team was also on that helicopter that day. Mauser was affectionately called the “Mother of Defense” and is credited for instilling good work ethic in the girls.

Amalia Holguin, Kat Righeimer, Annabelle Spotts, Emily Eadie, and Zoie Lamkin are known as The Mambas. These are the girls who are the last batch to be trained by the late Mamba. Sage Hill’s Emily Eadie said, “I just have so much to thank her for because she really taught me good work ethic.”  Holguin said that training with Mauser was a great learning experience and the players used to look forward to it. She said, “Every time it was like, ‘Oh, it’s Coach Christina’s turn to take over practice,’ we were like, ‘OK, we’re going to get better today.”

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Gigi had Kobe Bryant’s mannerisms

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The Orange County basketball community witnessed Gigi’s growth as a basketball player from up close. Her teammate Righeimer said, “Gigi was definitely the type of player that would not back down from any challenge. I feel like Gigi played a lot like Coach Bryant and you could see watching film of her how some of the mannerisms were the same.” As for what they learned from the great man, the list is endless. Righeimer said it was a privilege to be around Kobe and get to learn from him because not a lot of people can get that.

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She said, “Obviously, not a lot of people can say they’ve been coached by Kobe Bryant, but definitely a huge privilege.” Kobe had a lot of positive influence on the girls, and even though that void can never be filled, everything that the Black Mamba taught them, they vow to hold it close to their hearts. Spotts said, “The first thing that comes to mind, really, is my gratitude for that experience, I’m very grateful for all the lessons we all learned and can share about just the things that he taught us.”

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Kobe’s countless valuable lessons will always be with them, especially when they’re gearing up for the major leagues in a few years.

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Written by:

Prateek Singh

918Articles

One take at a time

My introduction to basketball was through Kobe Bryant. Soon enough, I was hooked to his game and although I started with being a fan of his, I also became a fan of basketball. To this day, Kobe remains my reference and guide as I try to navigate through life.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph

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