A fascinating and touching tale about Kobe Bryant was told by the late Los Angeles Lakers legend’s high school English teacher.
At Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Bryant took English in the 10th grade from Jeanne Mastriano and speaking arts in the 12th. She also had tremendous regard for the guard.
Teacher of Kobe Bryant recalls a wonderful story
Mastriano relived one of her favourite recollections of Bryant, which she described as a “really long story,” in an interview with Bill Littlefield of WBUR. It occurred while Bryant was facing off against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. She couldn’t remember if it was Game 3 or 4, but she did know that the Lakers loat a nail-biting match.
“They all — all the people on that court — played full out. The Lakers lost by, like — I don’t know — two points. It was back and forth and back and forth. And I turned to my husband, and I just said, “You know what’s a shame? It’s so beautiful. This was such a beautiful battle. And it’s all about the struggle. It doesn’t matter —” And I just ranted about how beautiful it was, and what a shame it was that one half of the men on that court were gonna go home absolutely devastated,” she said.
“Then I said, “I don’t know how the Lakers get it together to go in for the next game. They just left everything there.” And my husband just listened to me, and he just said, “Well, you should tell him that.” I said, “Well, Kobe has plenty of people around him to tell him that.” And he said, “Well, he doesn’t have you.” And I was like, “No, I’m not gonna bother him.” So we go to bed,” she added.
Mastriano’s husband’s remarks stayed in her mind, and after the loss she ultimately made the decision to share her feelings with Bryant.
Bryant reacted to his teacher’s message
Mastriano called the superstar at around three in the morning and gave her feelings before introducing herself at the end of the call. She continued by saying that she never received a response. The Lakers eventually resumed play and defeated the Celtics. Bryant opened the high school’s new gym shortly after that. Prior to the occasion, she received a press email expressing the opinion of the school’s coach on Mastriano’s conversation with the star.
“And I got an email at school saying, “How does Downer,” — Downer was Kobe’s coach — “How does Downer feel about you talking to him, giving him advice during the Finals?” And I wrote back, “What? I didn’t talk to him?” He sent me a link to an ESPN article, and there it was in print: “Yeah, I talked a lot with her through the Finals.” I was like, “What?” she said.
“We were gathering in this little anteroom. And we were sitting quietly in the room, and I just brought this article up, and he said, “Yeah, well, you remember? Remember when you called me during the Finals?” And I said, “Yes, but the article says we ‘talked.’ Conversation implies that one person speaks and the other person responds.” And he [Kobe] laughs, and he says, “Well, I’ll tell you: I saved that message and I played it over and over and over again as I was getting ready for the rest of the games,” she added.
Trust Bryant to take note of what his mentors would say to him, and that contributed to his incredible success on the court as well as demonstrating his character as a fine person off it.