The Sports Report: Meet Amalia Holguin, the last player Kobe Bryant coached to reach high school

Sage Hill Academy High point guard Amalia Holguin is introduced before a game.
Sage Hill Academy High point guard Amalia Holguin is introduced before a game.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Today is the third anniversary of the death of Kobe Bryant and eight others in a helicopter crash. So we start with a story that showcases Amalia Holguin, the last player Bryant coached to reach high school.

From Luca Evans: You can’t teach confidence. But you can mold it. And more than four years after she walked into her first Mamba Academy practice, Amalia Holguin’s mentor still motivates every day. In every drill. One more rep for him.

Kobe Bryant’s lessons still echo in her head.

Even though you’re young, I’m going to put you in there. You’ve got to push it.

Even if you’re missing, keep shooting, it’ll fall.

At Bryant’s funeral after the Jan. 26, 2020 helicopter crash that killed nine, including his daughter Gianna, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli — all Holguin’s teammates with Mamba — Holguin’s father, James, remembered someone saying, “there’s 11 girls in the world who have been coached by Kobe Bryant.”

Holguin is the last of them to reach high school. And she came to Sage Hill, in part, because she was the last piece of an old puzzle scattered by tragedy: Bryant’s plan for an elite youth group of girls to play together through high school.


The last piece of a legacy.

Continue reading here

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.


From Dan Woike: No designer sweater. No expensive sunglasses. No custom pants.

Wednesday, Anthony Davis was in the standard-issue purple Nike warm-ups with the team’s iconic golden jersey underneath, the wait for his on-court return about to be over.

In the seconds before he checked in, the Spurs pounded the offensive glass to steal two points.

By the time he left the floor seven minutes later, Davis had found a defensive rhythm, swatting two-straight shots to remind everyone what the Lakers had been playing without.

After missing 20 games with a bone spur, a fracture and a stress reaction all in his right foot, the Lakers got their star big man back – albeit in limited action – just in time for a crucial stretch of games.

Davis led them in scoring and rebounds, the Lakers beating the Spurs 113-104, dominating the fourth quarter.


He scored 21 points in 26 minutes to go with four blocks and 12 rebounds. LeBron James nearly had a triple-double with 20 points, 11 asssists and nine rebounds and Patrick Beverley scored 18.

Continue reading here


From Ben Bolch: At a time when it could use a boost, UCLA just got a little deeper, more athletic and increasingly dynamic on offense.

Amari Bailey is back.

The freshman guard who missed the last seven games with discomfort in his left foot is available to return Thursday against USC at the Galen Center, coach Mick Cronin said Wednesday.

The eighth-ranked Bruins went 6-1 in Bailey’s absence despite extended offensive lulls in several games. Bailey could compensate for several deficiencies with his superior passing and quickness. His ability to get to the basket can draw multiple defenders, giving him the option to find open teammates if he can’t find a shot to his liking.

Continue reading here



From Ryan Kartje: The few glimpses were brief, but breathtaking. A put-back dunk. A pick-and-roll layin. A fierce challenge at the rim. All blips of a bright future stretched over 14 minutes of a blowout win in Tempe.

Vince Iwuchukwu was still finding his footing last Saturday, still working his way back to full strength, six months after suffering cardiac arrest during a summer workout. The fact that the five-star freshman was playing at all at this point in USC’s season, given all he’d been through, was noteworthy. But by his fourth game back, as he scored 12 points off the bench against Arizona State, providing a spark on both ends of the court, the implications of the 7-footer’s arrival for USC had become abundantly clear to anyone watching. Including the rival coach across town.

“They are a different team now with Vince,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said of USC this week.

The Trojans will have the chance to prove as much Thursday, when they welcome No. 8 UCLA to Galen Center, three weeks after their last meeting at Pauley Pavilion went down to the wire. UCLA ultimately escaped that outing with a late Jaylen Clark three-pointer, extending a winning streak that grew to 14 games. USC, in the meantime, has won three of four since its furious second-half comeback fell short in the first matchup, the Trojans finally finding their stride after an uneven start to the season.

Continue reading here


All times Pacific
Conference championship

NFC: San Francisco at Philadelphia, Noon, FOX, FOX Deportes
AFC: Cincinnati at Kansas City, 3:30 p.m., CBS, Paramount+

Super Bowl
Sunday, February 12
3:30 p.m., Fox


What is your prediction for the Super Bowl matchup? Click here to vote in our poll. Results will be in Friday’s newsletter.


Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia
Cincinnati vs. San Francisco
Kansas City vs. Philadelphia
Kansas City vs. San Francisco

Click here to vote

Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow are among finalists for NFL MVP


From Kevin Baxter: Every journey begins with a single step. The challenge, however, is knowing which way to go and how long it will take to get there.

The U.S. men’s national soccer team, currently without a permanent coach, general manager or any real sense of direction, doesn’t know either of those things. Yet it took an uneven first step on its journey to the next World Cup on Wednesday just the same, dropping a 2-1 decision to Serbia before a sparse crowd at newly christened BMO Stadium.

With the U.S. co-hosting the 2026 World Cup, alongside Canada and Mexico, the pressure already is building for the Americans to make a deep run in the tournament. The U.S. has gotten as far as the quarterfinals just once in the modern era, and anything short of the final eight in 2026 would be considered a disappointment.

Wednesday’s young, inexperienced team won’t be the World Cup one; lacking a FIFA competition window, the U.S. was unable to call in the European-based core of its roster. Instead, caretaker coach Anthony Hudson summoned five players from last year’s World Cup team and 13 others who had never appeared in a game for the senior national team.


Continue reading here


1913 — Jim Thorpe gives up his track medals from the 1912 Olympic games as a result of his having been a professional. He had been paid $25 for playing in a semipro baseball game.

1951 — Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1955 — Joe DiMaggio is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1960 — Pete Rozelle is chosen the new commissioner of the National Football League.

1985 — Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky scores his 50th goal in the 49th game of the season, a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

1986 — The Chicago Bears win their first NFL championship since 1963 by setting a Super Bowl-record for points scored in defeating the New England Patriots 46-10.

1991 — Houston guard Vernon Maxwell joins Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson and George Gervin as the only players in NBA history to score 30 points or more in a quarter. Maxwell scores 30 of his career-high 51 points in the fourth period to help Houston beat Cleveland 103-97.

1992 — The Washington Redskins win their third Super Bowl in 10 years, beating the Buffalo Bills 37-24, putting the game away with 24 straight points after a scoreless first quarter.


1996 — Three years after she won her last Grand Slam title on the same Center Court, Monica Seles wins her fourth Australian Open crown. Seles beats Germany’s Anke Huber 6-4, 6-1 to claim her ninth major championship.

1997 — The Green Bay Packers, behind big plays, beat the New England Patriots 35-21 in the Super Bowl. Brett Favre finds Andre Rison for a 54-yard touchdown on the Packers’ second offensive play, then throws an 81-yard TD pass to Antonio Freeman in the second quarter. Desmond Howard, the first special teams MVP, scores on a 99-yard kickoff return to put away the Patriots.

2002 — Jennifer Capriati produces the greatest comeback in a Grand Slam final to overcome Martina Hingis and defend her Australian Open title. Capriati saved four match points before clinching a 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory over Hingis.

2007 — Mark Recchi scores two goals, including the 500th of his career, in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 shootout win over Dallas.

2008 — Mirai Nagasu becomes the second-youngest woman to win the title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The 4-foot-11 14-year-old falls on her opening jump, a double axel, but lands six triple jumps, three in combination, in her program.

2013 — Victoria Azarenka wins her second consecutive Australian Open title, beating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Mike and Bob Bryan become the most decorated doubles team in Grand Slam history by winning their 13th major title, beating Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4 in 53 minutes.


2013 — Ashley Wagner became the first woman since Michelle Kwan in 2005 to win back-to-back titles in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

2013 — San Jose’s Patrick Marleau becomes the second player in NHL history to open a season with four straight multigoal games, striking twice on the power play in the first period of a 4-0 win over Colorado.

2014 — Stan Wawrinka holds off an injured Rafael Nadal to win his first Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory in the Australian Open final.

2014 — DeMarco Murray catches a 20-yard pass for a touchdown and Mike Tolbert plunges into the end zone for a 2-point conversion with less than 1 minute to give Jerry Rice team a 22-21 win over Deion Sanders team in the first schoolyard-style Pro Bowl.

2020 - Lakers legend Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash in foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas.

Compiled by the Associated Press


And finally

The 1985 Chicago Bears perform “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.