Mike Elsner, of Lynden, left, at one time ran basketball camps for Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and the Elsners’ baby son was given the name Kobe after Bryant as well. (Courtesy photo)

Son named Kobe for the Lakers star

  WHATCOM ­— Local people who had some connection to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant were sharing their stories Monday in the wake of the shocking news of Bryant’s death, with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in California Sunday.

  • Lynden High School assistant basketball coach Mike Elsner had a history with Bryant. The two were friends and Elsner used to run basketball camps for him. 

  Elsner’s son, Kobe, a former star at Lynden High School who was on the teams that won back-to-back state basketball championships in 2018 and 2019, is named after the Lakers’ legend.

  Elsner told radio station KPUG he would head down to Seattle or travel to LA to watch Bryant play during his NBA career. Bryant, 41, retired in 2016.

  • Bryant was in flight to open the new Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. Hundreds of talented basketball girls were in a tournament there, including Devin Coppinger of Nooksack Valley Middle School on a Tree of Hope team from Washington State that had played a Bryant-coached team just on Saturday.