Sabrina Ionescu makes basketball history hours after speaking at Kobe Bryant’s memorial

National News

(CBS News) – Oregon Ducks basketball star Sabrina Ionescu had a challenging Monday, but she rose to the occasion and ended up making history. Ionescu began her morning in Los Angeles, speaking at the memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi. 

After delivering a heartfelt speech in front of thousands of people at the Staples Center, Ionescu hopped on a plane and scored the 2,000th point of her college career. During Oregon’s game against Stanford, Ionescu became the first NCAA Division I player – man or woman – to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in her career, CBS Sports reports.

The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant
First, Sabrina Ionescu spoke during “The Celebration of Life” for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. KEVORK DJANSEZIAN / GETTY IMAGES

Ionescu is Oregon’s all-time leading scorer and one of the most accomplished college basketball players in history. She accomplished the milestone during the third quarter of Monday’s game, which Oregon won against Stanford.

Ionescu also got her 26th career triple-double after registering 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists during the game. 

Just hours earlier at the Staples Center, the 22-year-old was among basketball legends, including Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Bill Russell, Diana Taurasi, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Anthony Davis and Dwyane Wade. She got up on stage in front of about 20,000 people and spoke about what Kobe Bryant taught her.

Oregon v Long Beach State
Then Ionescu, seen here playing against Long Beach State in December, flew to the Bay Area to play a game, during which she made Division I basketball history.SCARNICI / GETTY IMAGES

“I grew up watching Kobe Bryant game after game, ring after ring, living his greatness without apology,” she said during the service. “I wanted to be just like him, to love every part of the competition, to be the first to show up and the last to leave, to love the grind, to be your best when you don’t feel your best and make other people around you the best version of themselves.”

Following the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and eight others, Ionescu wrote a long and emotional Instagram caption about the NBA All-Star, who she called her “mentor, idol, inspiration, and close friend.” 

“You took me under your wing and believed in me more than I believed in myself. I only have one choice. To live out your legacy,” she wrote. 

View this post on Instagram

#mambacita and @sabrina_i aka Geppetto

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Bryant had taken Gigi and her friends to watch Oregon play. The younger players met the college team and Ionescu went on to form a personal relationship with Bryant and help coach his Mamba Academy team, Yahoo Sports reports.

During the tribute, Ionescu said she still sent texts to Kobe “even though he’s not here.” Following her record-breaking performance on Monday night, she told ESPN she had Kobe on her mind. “That one was for him. To do it on 2-24-20 is huge,” she said. 

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