- New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu is rehabbing an injury with Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and their daughters.
- While bringing the ball up the court against the Atlanta Dream on July 31, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft rolled her ankle in just the third game of her pro career and wound up with a Grade 3 sprain.
- She left the wubble five days later to see an ankle and foot specialist in New York, and now it appears she’s spending time with the Bryant family, presumably in Los Angeles.
- Kobe was a mentor to Ionescu and she, in turn, became a mentor to his daughter, Gigi.
- After Kobe and Gigi died alongside seven others in a tragic helicopter crash this January, the then-Oregon Ducks star eulogized them at their memorial service and has since grown closer with Vanessa and his three other daughters.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Sabrina Ionescu’s WNBA career was just beginning when an ankle injury forced her to leave her New York Liberty team and visit a specialist outside of the “wubble,” as the league’s bubble has been dubbed.
But now that she’s no longer confined to the WNBA’s isolated campus at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft is using her newfound free time to catch up with some old friends.
Ionescu visited Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, and their daughters – presumably out in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, the former Oregon Ducks superstar posted a clip of Kobe merchandise – including his black Lakers jersey and a shoebox filled with his signature Nike sneakers – to her Instagram story.
And later that evening, Ionescu followed up the first post with a selfie featuring Vanessa and two of her daughters – Natalia and Bianka – all cuddled up together. According to the caption accompanying the photo, the foursome was enjoying a movie night together.
Ionescu has a long and public history with the Bryant family. Kobe became an involved mentor to her back when she was dominating the NCAA for the Ducks and she, in turn, became a mentor to his daughter, Gigi. The triple-double queen even spent time over the summer working out with the Black Mamba and coaching Gigi’s Mamba Academy team by his side.
“If I respresented the present of the women’s game, then Gigi represented the future,” Ionescu said at Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s Celebration of Life Memorial. “And Kobe knew it. So we decided to build a future together.”
After Kobe and Gigi died alongside seven others in a tragic helicopter crash this January, Ionescu eulogized them at their memorial service. She vowed to dedicate the remainder of her time at Oregon – and her rookie season in the WNBA – to Kobe and Gigi. Ionescu has since grown closer with Vanessa and the Bryants’ three other daughters through their shared mourning.
It remains unclear if and when Ionescu will be able to rejoin her Liberty teammates in the wubble. The point guard has been diagnosed with a Grade 3 sprain, recovery from which can span from a few weeks to several months.
With New York in last place in the league standings and the regular season coming to a close next month, it’s likely Ionescu won’t return this season.
- Read more:
- Sue Bird is reflecting on her legacy and the WNBA she’ll leave behind to budding stars like Sabrina Ionescu and Paige Bueckers
- Sabrina Ionescu looks like the superstar we were promised just two games into her WNBA career
- Jay Williams has become one of ESPN’s strongest, most dignified voices during an unprecedented moment for sports: ‘My whole life has led me to this moment’
- A behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of ESPN star Jay Williams – from meals with NBA powerhouse agents to battles with Stephen A. Smith