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Kobe Bryant inspired Valley kids with work ethic, career achievements in his brief visit

Kobe Bryant was in Gilbert in December to coach his daughter Gianna and her Mamba Sports Academy girls team.
Credit: Dalen Terry
Kobe Bryant and Dalen Terry

Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of millennial and Gen Z kids to do something those groups are often criticized for failing to do: work hard and shrug off the naysayers.

Bryant earned his success and legacy through thousands of hours of hard work in the gym, and his influence was on full display Monday at Inspire Courts in Gilbert, where Hillcrest Prep trains and plays home games. 

Senior point guard Dalen Terry had the chance to meet Bryant in Gilbert in December. He took a picture with the superstar and says he plans to bring a Kobe-like work ethic to Tucson when he enrolls at UArizona next year.

“I don’t have it in me to shoot as much as he did,” Terry said, “but I can work hard.”

Hillcrest brings some of the nation’s top talent to the Valley.

“Puff” Johnson, the younger brother of Suns rookie Cam Johnson, is in his first year at Hillcrest after moving from the Pittsburgh area. 

He had just received a pair of Kobe Bryant basketball shoes as a gift from his older brother and said he’ll cherish them.

“He’s a legend, and he’s well respected, and I can’t believe this is happening to such a great guy,” Puff Johnson said.

If there is a lesson to be learned from Bryant’s death, Terry summed up his takeaway as a warning.

“It’s just a message to everybody that, like, you gotta live your best life while you can,” Terry said. “It was a freak accident, and it could’ve happened to anybody, but it happened to him.”

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