Kobe Bryant meets Minnesota guard Rachel Banham

Kobe Bryant and Rachel Banham

On Feb. 7, Minnesota guard Rachel Banham tied the NCAA Division-1 single-game scoring record when she put 60 points on Northwestern. Two days later, Kobe Bryant reacted:

One week later, Banham scored 30 points and hit a buzzer-beater against Michigan State. Bryant again responded:

Banham is now in Los Angeles for the John R. Wooden award ceremony, where the top player in women’s basketball is to be announced today. Naturally, she had to go by Staples Center and check out one of her big fans.


Here’s how their encounter went, and what Kobe said to Banham when they spoke, via Joey Ramirez of NBA.com:

“I didn’t think he’d recognize me, honestly, because that’s Kobe Bryant,” she said.

But Bryant didn’t hesitate when he saw her. They briefly chatted before the five-time NBA champion invited her to meet with him after the game.

“When I hugged him, he said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing and keep putting in work,’” Banham said. “It’s just so cool that someone like him believes in something that I can do.”

Bryant signed Banham’s jersey before introducing her to his wife, Vanessa, and daughters, Natalia and Gianna.

“I had no idea what to say,” Banham said. “I was so nervous and didn’t want to sound weird.”

There was no need for worrying, as Bryant expressed his mutual admiration for her. As she walked out of Staples Center a few minutes later, she learned what her hero had written inside the numbers of her jersey.

“To Rachel: Be the greatest — Kobe Bryant”

Banham averaged 27.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists at Minnesota this season. The next step for her to show her greatness will be in the WNBA.

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Martin is the Founder, Chief Editor, and Head Skills Development Trainer for Basketball Society. He has work experience in digital media and marketing, radio, and journalism. Currently, he does freelance work as a videographer and content creator. He has been featured as a writer on sites such as Def Pen, TV Film News, All Hip-Hop, and more. Martin played high school basketball at South Brunswick High School (NJ) where he graduated in 2007. He is a 1,000-point scorer at SBHS and an All-Middlesex County performer as a 3-year varsity starter. He helped lead SBHS to their first-ever Central Jersey Group 4 sectional state championship in 2007. Martin played college basketball at Eastern University, where he graduated (BA, Communications) in 2012. Martin was a four-year starter and a 1,000-point scorer at EU. Follow Martin on Twitter @Marsoaries and on Instagram @martin_soaries


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