Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant (pictured) and his daughter, Gianna, were among nine killed in a January helicopter crash. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo
May 12 (UPI) -- The Mamba Sports Academy is removing "Mamba" from its name to respect the wishes of Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant's family.
Bryant helped lead the organization before he, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a January helicopter crash. The group was flying to the basketball academy when the aircraft crashed in the hills northwest of Los Angeles.
"Today, with respect for an unparalleled legacy, the Academy will retire the 'Mamba' in the Mamba Sports Academy name -- to raise it to the rafters, where it belongs," the organization said in a statement Tuesday. "In doing so, Sports Academy will carry on the vision it curated during that special partnership.
"The changing of the name from Mamba Sports Academy to Sports Academy, the original name from 2016, is not a decision we came to lightly or on our own. It was a mutual agreement made in accordance with the wishes of his estate. Thank you for respecting that decision in these turbulent times."
Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner launched the organization in 2016 in Southern California with a mission of "elevating human performance," according to its website. Bryant partnered with Faulkner in 2018, and the academy said the business relationship -- which lasted about 14 months -- was "extraordinary."
The name will change back to The Sports Academy, with a new website and logo rebranding.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time All-Star selection with the Lakers. The franchise retired his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys, and he was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April.