Mamba FC soccer team players say Coach Kobe always supported them to chase their dreams

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In addition to coaching basketball teams, Kobe Bryant was also a soccer coach. Players on Mamba FC, which included his daughter Natalia, came out to L.A. Live Tuesday night to pay their respects to the Lakers legend.

"If we got hurt and got mad, he would tell us to look at the bright side because you never know what will happen. And I just always looked up to him," said Karla Rodriguez, who played on Mamba FC.

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Karla and her friend Julia Ho both played on Mamba FC with Kobe's daughter Natalia for two years. Kobe Bryant was their coach, and he didn't just show up to games. He took the time to support their growth, get to know them and their families.

"When we went to go watch China vs. USA, he took us to the stadium in San Diego, and he looked at me and he pulled me aside and he was like, 'Karla, one day I'm going to see you playing on this field with the national team and I want to do our handshake together.' And that broke my heart, because I'm getting there. I already play for the Mexican national team and I just have to play in that stadium. And I'll make him happy and he'll be watching me from up there," Karla said.

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"It's like so sad, but I'm so happy I was able to have that moment because he inspired me so much. Even after I stopped seeing him every Monday, knowing that he was on this earth walking around, made me feel that I was safe and secure," said Julia.

The thousands of people who have cycled through L.A. Live since Sunday all have a different story about why they loved Kobe Bryant - but all the stories end with a "thank you."

"My nephew played in his academy, Mamba Academy, and it's a blessing. I tell him. There's not many made like him. He put everything out there for everybody," said Kobe fan Anthony Pallares.
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