September 07, 2023

By Beth Harris

Associated Press


Natalia Bryant threw out the first pitch on Friday, September 1, before the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Atlanta Braves as the Lakers NBA franchise for which her father Kobe starred was honored.

The 20-year-old University of Southern California student tossed the ball from in front of the mound. It took one bounce and into the glove of All-Star Mookie Betts, who was handling catching duties.

A smiling Natalia hugged Betts, who wore her father`s No. 24 jersey over his uniform.

Bryant was joined by her mother, Vanessa, and sisters, 6-year-old Bianka and 4- year-old Capri. They all wore Dodgers jerseys. The back of Vanessa’s read Queen Mamba, a nod to Kobe’s nickname. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also attended.

Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in 2020.

Bianka gave the traditional pre-game shout of "It`s time for Dodger baseball!" with her mother and sisters at her side.

The Braves and Dodgers lined up along the first and third base sides, with the Dodgers wearing Lakers jerseys and fans chanting "Kobe! Kobe!"

As the Bryants were introduced, Vanessa blew a kiss to the crowd. Natalia carried her youngest sister before handing her off and standing alone on the field to watch a slide show of her father visiting the Dodgers clubhouse.

Natalia was following in her father's footsteps. Kobe Bryant handled first-pitch duties at a Dodgers game in 2000.

The family settled into the owners’ box to watch the game, with Bianka hanging over the fence separating the seats from the field for a better look.

Fans who purchased a special ticket package received a black jersey with Dodgers and No. 8 on the front and Bryant and No. 24 on the back, the numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year career in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers presented a $100,000 check to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funding and sports programming to underserved athletes.

The postgame drone show was scheduled to honor Bryant.

Category: Sports