Gigi and Kobe Bryant Befriended a Small-Town Basketball Star and Her Dad in Washington

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(*to be used with this article only) Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships at the Woollett Aquatics Center on July 26, 2018 in Irvine, California. (Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

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Hailey Van Lith lives basketball in her tiny town — Cashmere, Wash., population 3,152 — and as the nation’s No. 1 guard and No. 2 overall player on the women’s basketball ranking site Prospects Nation, the 18-year-old knows a bit about celebrity and fame.

But last summer, as she waited in a Thailand airport after a Team USA game, she wasn’t prepared for a message from basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

“The text was from one of Kobe’s main guys — I called him ‘T,’ and he just basically said that Kobe knew about me, loved my game and really wanted to get me to L.A. to work with him and talk about basketball,” Hailey said in a phone interview Monday as she drove to practice at Cashmere High School.

“I couldn’t believe it, that he actually knew who I was and thought I was a good player. When I later asked him, ‘Why me?’ he basically said the way I play, my work ethic and mentality on the court, reminded him of himself, and it compelled him to reach out to me.”

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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