Kobe Bryant granted my son’s dying wish: Father reveals how ‘amazing’ player gave his teenage son an NBA jersey just months before the youngster died of cancer
- Billy Thorington said his son Cody was buried with a Lakers jersey worn by Kobe
- The father arranged for his son to meet his hero Bryant in Los Angeles in 2007
- Make-a-Wish foundation says Bryant granted the wish to more than 200 children
The father of a teenage boy who died of cancer in 2007 has revealed how Kobe Bryant granted his son a dying wish by meeting him in Los Angeles and gifting him an NBA jersey.
Billy Thorington said his son Cody was buried with the Lakers souvenir which Bryant had given him.
Speaking to WHO-TV after Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday, the father hailed the NBA legend as an ‘amazing person on and off the court’.
The Make-a-Wish foundation, which organized the visit, says Bryant granted more than 200 children the chance to meet their hero over the years.
Kobe Bryant meets 15-year-old Cody Thorington in 2007 in a moment which the teenager’s father said was a ‘dream come true’ for his son
Cody Thorington (second right) meets Kobe Bryant (second left) in 2007 along with his father Billy (left) and younger brother Travis (right)
Billy Thorington, the father, said his son Cody had hoped to play basketball himself before he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer at the age of 13.
Thorington arranged for Cody to meet his hero in Los Angeles where the family watched Bryant score 23 points in a Lakers game and posed for pictures with the basketball star.
‘It was amazing. It was really amazing for Cody,’ Thorington recalled, saying Bryant had been ‘friendly, it was like he knew us’.
‘I was really happy to see my kid being that happy. It was like one of his dreams come true,’ the father said.
‘Kobe gave him his jersey that he wore that night. I folded it up and put it in his casket so it’s with him.’
Cody, who lived in Davenport, Iowa, died in November 2007 at the age of 15.
The Make-a-Wish foundation this week hailed Bryant for the ‘inspiration he imparted on his bravest, most fragile fans’.
‘Make-A-Wish is devastated to learn of wish granter Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna’s tragic death,’ a statement said.
‘Kobe granted more than 200 wishes, giving each child hope for a brighter future.’
Kobe Bryant (pictured playing for the Lakers in 2015) granted more than 200 children the chance to meet their hero, the Make-a-Wish foundation says
Other parents and children recalled how Bryant had been ‘welcoming’ and ‘loving and caring’ when he met the youngsters who had wished for a meeting with him.
Bryant said in 2016 that he hoped his efforts with children and their families would ‘live well beyond the game of basketball’.
‘Basketball is something that will come and eventually go, the beauty in that is trying to use that time to inspire others and provide some sort of escape for them,’ he said.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died when their helicopter crashed in California on Sunday.
The death of the 18-time NBA all-star sparked an outpouring of tributes from the worlds of sport, politics and entertainment.
The cause of the helicopter crash remains under investigation, but the aircraft had been flying through thick fog before it slammed into a hillside.