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Vanessa Bryant announces ‘celebration of life’ for Kobe and Gianna

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AFP

By AFP
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Vanessa Bryant announced plans for a public celebration of life for her late husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna on February 24 in a touching Instagram post on Friday.

“#2, #24 #20 years as a Laker,” the bereaved wife and mother wrote in the post, confirming that a memorial service would be held at Staples Centre arena that Monday morning at 10:00 (1800 GMT, 9pm EAT).

She said more details were to come.

Gianna Bryant wore No. 2 for her school basketball team and Kobe Bryant wore No. 24 in the later stages of his iconic 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the rugged hills west of Los Angeles on January 26.

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The event will fall on a day between two Lakers home games, but the rival Los Angeles Clippers will host the Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA game at the arena in downtown Los Angeles that night.

Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center, told the Los Angeles Times that getting the court ready for the game won’t be a problem.

“Staples Center has hosted over 220 doubleheaders in its 20-year history,” Zeidman said. “While this is going to be a very emotional day for the Bryant family, the Los Angeles Lakers, the city of Los Angeles, as well as for the men and women who work at Staples Center, we are very confident we will be ready for 6 pm doors opening for the Clippers-Memphis game following the ceremony.”

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Staples Center, also the home of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and venue for concerts and events such as the recent Grammy Awards, has hosted memorials for recording artists Michael Jackson and Nipsey Hussle.

Fans mourning Bryant had made the area outside Staples a spontaneous shrine, leaving mountains of flowers along with basketballs, jerseys, stuffed animals and other mementoes.

Those items have been cleared away, with thousands of them being sent to Vanessa Bryant at her request.

The Lakers themselves paid emotional tribute to Bryant there in their first game after the club legend’s death, when they hosted the Portland Trail Blazers five days after the accident.

Gianna’s teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Alyssa’s parents John and Keri Altobelli, Payton’s mother Sarah Chester, basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan also died in the crash, which remains under investigation.

A memorial service was scheduled for Monday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the Altobelli family. John Altobelli, 56, was a longtime coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team.

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Manchester United blow chance for third with Southampton draw

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MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Jul 14 – Manchester United missed the chance to move up to third in the Premier League on Monday after Michael Obafemi’s 96th minute equaliser earned Southampton a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in the latest twist in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were unable to take advantage of weekend defeats for Chelsea and Leicester to remain in fifth.

United had become the first side in Premier League history to win four consecutive games by a three-goal margin, but there was no cruise for the Red Devils this time even after they responded to Stuart Armstrong’s early opener.

Two goals in as many minutes from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial turned the game around, but United were caught out by a corner deep into stoppage time when substitute Obafemi turned home Jan Bednarek’s flick on.

Manchester City’s victory over UEFA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier on Monday upped the pressure on United to continue their impressive form with only a place in the top four now good enough for Champions League qualification.

Solskjaer will still be confident of achieving that goal as his side have closed an eight-point gap on Leicester, who they face on the final day of the season, since the Premier League’s restart.

But two dropped points were a reminder that United are far from the finished article if they aspire to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the title next season.

A 17-match unbeaten run looked in danger early as Southampton — who have been in impressive form themselves since the Premier League’s return last month — were rewarded for a bright start at Old Trafford.

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Paul Pogba’s return from injury has played a big part in United’s free-scoring run, but the Frenchman was at fault for the opening goal as he was caught in possession by Danny Ings.

Redmond then crossed for the unmarked Armstrong at the back post and the Scottish international took a touch before flashing a shot past De Gea.

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– Firepower –

United have now scored 16 goals in their last five league games to close the gap on Chelsea and Leicester in the top four race.

That firepower was in evidence as the game was turned on its head within two minutes as Martial showed great strength and touch to tee up Rashford to slot home his 21st goal of the season.

Both Rashford and Martial are enjoying their best ever scoring seasons and moments later it was the Frenchman’s turn to score his 21st of the campaign as he powered past Kyle Walker-Peters before lashing a shot past Alex McCarthy for his 50th Premier League goal.

Southampton were lucky to get into half-time with just 11 men on the field as Oriol Romeu somehow escaped sanction despite a VAR review for a dangerous lunge on Mason Greenwood.

The Saints stemmed United’s flow at the start of the second half and Solskjaer responded by replacing Pogba with Fred.

Rashford and Martial still had chances to kill the game as Ryan Bertrand’s block denied the English international a certain second before Martial slashed a shot wide after a purposeful run from the halfway line.

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United were given a warning five minutes from time when De Gea produced a stunning save to turn Redmond’s effort over to bounce back from a couple of errors leading to goals since the Premier League’s restart.

The hosts were left down to 10 men for the final few minutes as Brandon Williams was taken off with a head injury after Solskjaer had used his allocated three stoppages to make substitutions.

And they were caught out as Obafemi was in the right place to claim a point for Southampton.

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NBA star Westbrook tests positive for COVID-19

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LOS ANGELES, United States, Jul 13NBA star Russell Westbrook revealed Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19 as the league gears up for its return in Florida later this month.

Houston Rockets star Westbrook, the 2017 Most Valuable Player and one of the biggest names in the NBA, said in a statement he was feeling well and was in isolation.

“I tested positive for COVID-19 prior to my team’s departure to Orlando,” Westbrook said on Twitter.

“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support,” the 31-year-old added.

“Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!”

Westbrook was one of several Rockets players who did not travel to Orlando, where the NBA will resume its season on July 30 after a four-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as Westbrook, fellow superstar James Harden and Cameroon international Luc Mbah a Moute also did not travel, although the team has not given a reason for their absence.

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Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni on Sunday said Westbrook, Harden and Mbah a Moute were “working in their own home base.”

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“We’re still expecting them in a few days,” D’Antoni said. “You never know, but we think we’ll get them back in here by the middle of the week.

D’Antoni would not comment on why the players had not travelled with the team.

“These are things that people are dealing with,” he said. “We’re not going to get into why not. They’re on their way.”

Westbrook is one of several NBA players to have tested positive for COVID-19, joining a list which includes Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, Boston’s Marcus Smart and Utah Jazz duo Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

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Honour our nurses … they pay the ultimate price for us to live

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By BERNADINE MUTANU

On June 18, Moses Gitonga Ringera, the clinical nurse who succumbed to Covid-19 recently, reported to work at the University of Nairobi Clinic as usual.

But he started complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath hours later.

“When he was examined, his blood sugar was very high despite him not having a history of diabetes,” said his wife, Lucyline Gitonga, during an interview with the Nation.

Because of the Covid-19 symptoms, he was rushed to the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) and was put in isolation. At the unit, his condition was confirmed.

Gitonga was the second case of a Covid-19 death of a healthcare professional in the country. He would have celebrated his 50th birthday on August 21, his wife told the Nation.

On admission, the 49-year-old nurse never woke up; he died at the intensive care unit, having fought the virus for a week.

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“I was called from the hospital and informed that he had died on June 24 at 6.30am,” she said.

The medical professional was buried at his home in Kunene, Tigania West, in Meru County on June 30.

LONG ABSENCE

Mrs Gitonga, a nurse working in Meru, said the last time she saw him was in March, just before curfew.

“He had come home and because of the restrictions, he could not come again. When he got ill, we just spoke over the phone to inform me of his condition,” she said.

“We are still mourning. We are still seeing him. We feel as if he is still with us but we are beginning to realise that we are alone. It is deeply painful.”

The nurse said her husband contracted the virus in the line of duty as he sacrificed his life for Kenyans.

“Healthcare workers should be protected. They should be given personal protective equipment and their families should be compensated in case of death so that their children can continue with their lives,” she said.

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“There should be an enabling environment… healthcare workers should have insurance.”

OTHER DEATHS

Before Gitonga, Clifford Manyara Mburia, a 58-year-old anaesthetist who was working at Kitengela Medical Centre, succumbed to the virus.

He passed on at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) on June 15 after contracting the virus in the line of duty and was buried on June 22 in Kithiru, Weru in Tharaka Nithi County.

Mburia had two children.

“It was discovered posthumously that he had contracted the virus,” said Alfred Obengo, President of the National Nurses Association of Kenya.

Speaking to the Nation, his daughter Shirleen Gakii, 25, said, “We could not imagine it. I have never seen him admitted to a hospital, his death was untimely.”

He developed a cough and died only a day after being admitted at KNH, she said.

“I was called by his friend who informed me of his demise. I later learnt that he passed on because he had Covid-19,” Gakii said.

The first-year student at Chuka University said life has been hard without both of their parents.

She and her brother, a second-year KCA University student, are afraid they may not be able to complete their studies for lack of finances.

The latest health worker to pay the ultimate price was Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, who died on Friday at Aga Khan Hospital.

Dr Lugaliki was buried on Monday in Bungoma County.

Currently, some 361 healthcare workers have tested positive for the disease, which has already killed 197 Kenyans.

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