Kobe Bryant Partners with Aspen Institute Youth Sports Initiative

NBA legend to speak at Project Play Summit Oct. 16 in Washington

 MALIBU, CA-AUGUST 16: Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel pose for a portrait at Dun & Bradstreet on August 16, 2016 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/Bernstein Associates, Inc.

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2018 – NBA legend Kobe Bryant will participate as a featured speaker at the 2018 Project Play Summit and help stakeholders take next steps in making quality sport accessible to all children, wherever they live. Bryant’s participation at the Summit marks the start of a multiyear partnership between the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and one of the most accomplished athletes of all-time.

The nation’s premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sport and health, the Project Play Summit will be held Oct. 16 in Washington, D.C., at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum. Members of the public may register here for the event, which has sold out since inception four years ago. Early-bird registration ends July 24, and capacity at the venue is maxed at 400.

Now a filmmaker and youth basketball coach, Bryant will use his voice to elevate Project Play, which develops, applies and shares knowledge that helps stakeholders to build healthy kids and communities through sports. He will highlight Project Play activities on social media platforms, event appearances and other engagements.

“Project Play holds the same core values as me when it comes to the approach to youth sports,” said Bryant, who recently won an Oscar for his short film on his basketball journey from childhood through retirement. “We’re each bringing those core values to young athletes in differing, but converging ways. I’m focused on creating fictional stories that tap into the socio-emotional development of athletes, whereas Project Play develops resources and mobilizes organizations to grow access to quality sport opportunities. I believe the marriage between those two initiatives creates this beautiful relationship that will change the way our young people learn about sports – and about themselves.”

Joining Bryant at the Project Play Summit will be dozens of thought leaders participating in panels and group conversations. The event’s theme this year is “Think Global, Play Local.” Attendees will be introduced to cutting-edge ideas from within U.S. and beyond that can inspire and help them develop original solutions to the challenge of engaging kids of all backgrounds and abilities. The Aspen Institute also will release its annual State of Play national report, with the latest data on participation and physical activity rates, plus 40 key developments.

The Summit also will feature the release of new tools and opportunities created through Project Play 2020, a sub-initiative of Project Play comprised of leading industry organizations and foundations pursuing shared goals in growing sport participation and related metrics among youth. Among those is a youth coaching course that will be offered for free to youth-serving organizations.

Bryant said youth basketball players need better, developmentally-appropriate coaching. Bryant started his own youth basketball league in 2017, the Mamba League, in partnership with Nike and the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles. The Mamba League covers underserved communities in Los Angeles County to inspire youth to learn basketball fundamentals and to build self-assuredness through an active, healthy lifestyle.

“I think we tend to overlook the significance coaches have on children – their emotional development, their ability to imagine, dream and hope,” Bryant said. “Project Play understands the importance of equipping coaches with the correct tools to make them – and the young athletes – successful.”

Sponsors of the 2018 Project Play Summit include NBC Sports, Hospital for Special Surgery, Nike, Target and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. A post-Summit workshop day focused on helping community leaders mobilize stakeholders at the local level will be hosted the following day, Oct. 17, at the Aspen Institute’s Washington D.C. offices. The latter event is sponsored by ESPN and the Horner Foundation.

To learn more about Bryant’s thoughts on youth sports, read his Q&A here with Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey.

For more information on Project Play, please visit www.ProjectPlay.us.

Contact: Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Sports & Society Program
Jon.solomon@aspeninstitute.org, C: 205.572.2907