Golfer Justin Thomas auctioning off Kobe clubs for crash victims' families

Justin Thomas placed third in the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open on Feb. 2 at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Justin Thomas placed third in the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open on Feb. 2 at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Golf star Justin Thomas is auctioning off a set of custom wedges, with the proceeds benefiting families of the victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.

Proceeds from the sale will go directly to the MambaOnThree Fund. Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant, announced Jan. 29 that the Mamba Sports Foundation created the MambaOnThree Fund. The fund supports the other families impacted by the tragedy.


Thomas used the four SM8 Raw Tour Issued Custom Vokey Wedges at the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Titleist clubs are engraved with several nods to the late Los Angeles Lakers icon, including: Kobe Bean Bryant, Black Mamba, Mamba Mentality and 81 points.

The wedges -- designed by Thomas -- are valued at $5,000 and had a bid for $8,000 Friday afternoon at The auction ends at 3:24 p.m. EST Feb. 19.


"It's weird because I've never met [Kobe]," Thomas told reporters at the Jan. 30-to-Feb. 2 tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I've always wanted to meet him, but it's just for someone to have an impact on somebody that I've never met, never been around, is bizarre. And yeah, it's crazy, it's sad.

"I think what really got me is just how he lost his life just being a dad and being a great dad and the fact that his daughters are never going to be able to spend any time with him anymore was just like, for me, just really hard to kind of comprehend and deal with."

Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan were the seven other victims who died in the helicopter crash Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif.

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The NBA and NBA Players Association announced a $100,000 joint donation to the MambaOnThree Fund on Jan. 31. Bryant's former teammate Shaquille O'Neal has also donated to the fund.


Thomas placed third in the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open. The No. 4 golfer in the world wore Kobe's Lower Merion High School jersey during the tournament. Fellow golfer Tony Finau wore a Kobe Lakers jersey during the tournament.

"I was getting new wedges anyway so the timing worked out well to put some stamps on there for him," Thomas said of his custom clubs. "I've always been a huge fan of his. I've always loved watching him play, just loved hearing about his work ethic and stuff that he did on and off the court and how he just always worked harder than everybody else.

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"Obviously, he was freakishly talented but why he was better than everybody else was because he was going to work harder to get there and just kind of will himself to be a winner. That's something that I hope to do when I'm out there playing. When I have a chance to win a tournament, I want to have that 'Mamba' mentality, if you will, to try to close it out."

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