George Duran’s home in Corona was ransacked and burglarized Saturday night. Cash and jewelry from a safe estimated to be around $6,000 was stolen during the break-in.
But perhaps the biggest loss for Duran and the rest of his family is a piece of sports memorabilia that has a sentimental value that can’t be overstated: a Kobe Bryant rookie card that he’d owned since the late ’90s.
“I ended up trading one of my teachers for it,” Duran told KTLA. “I have moments when I get a little emotional. Not just thinking of the beginning of card, but its whole history.”
The lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, like most, has an emotional connection to the basketball icon.
He was able to get Kobe to sign the card during a Mamba Basketball tournament in Anaheim, only a month before the 2020 helicopter crash that would kill the NBA legend, his daughter and seven others.
Crystal Duran said the card held a special meaning for everyone in the family of five.
“Obviously with the passing of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, it even holds more value and closer to our heart because they are no longer here,” Crystal Duran said.
Crystal approached Gigi, Kobe’s daughter, at the tournament in hopes of getting the card signed. She signed it and then went above and beyond.
“I said, ‘Hey, we have a rookie card but I don’t want to bother your dad.’ And she was like, ‘OK.’ I was like, ‘it’s really old, way before you.'”
Gigi then took the card with her to show her dad.
“At first I kind of couldn’t believe it,” Crystal Duran said.
Kobe signed it and his staff returned the card to the family soon after.
It’s something you can’t put a price tag on, Crystal Duran said.
For the Durans, the card is priceless and a symbol of their love for the sports icon and a lasting memory of a moment shared with his daughter.
“I hope it gets returned … there’s no value I can put on it,” Duran said. “I hope one day to pass it on to my first born grandson.”
George Duran has never had the card appraised but he estimates it could be worth several thousand dollars.
The Corona Police Department is investigating the break-in and anyone with information is urged to contact detectives at 951-736-2330, ext. 2. You can also call the 24-hour anonymous tip line at 951-817-5837.