Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale thrust herself into the spotlight in the last week with a pair of game-winning shots in the Final Four.
In the semi-final, Ogunbowale hit a shot with just over a second left in overtime to beat UConn, ending their chance at a perfect season.
Two nights later, Ogunbowale hit a shot at the buzzer to beat Mississippi State and secure the national title for Notre Dame.
Kobe Bryant himself was in attendance for the Fighting Irish’s win over UConn and tweeted congratulations to Ogunbowale.
Big time shot Arike! We are a @UConnWBB family but we love seeing great players making great plays. I know my lil sis @jewellloyd is happy Well done @ndwbb good luck on Sunday #mambamentality 🙌 https://t.co/8DxHkNURN7
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 31, 2018
Bryant doubled down on the praise after Ogunbowale’s shot to win the National Title against Mississippi State.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 2, 2018
Ogunbowale made her admiration for Bryant known during the run as well.
Wow, my life is complete. The GOAT 😭🙌🏾 https://t.co/91wiItW0KN
— Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) March 31, 2018
Now that Kobe follows me anytime I tweet or retweet something I think to myself, “I wonder if Kobe wants to see this on his timeline”. 😂
— Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) April 3, 2018
All that culminated on Friday when Ogunbowale appeared on Ellen where, to the surprise of likely few, Bryant dropped by for a surprise visit and came bearing gifts.
The two then took to the court (kind of) and played some 2-on-2 with Ellen and noted Laker fan and Big3 founder Ice Cube.
Bryant’s been a long-time noted fan of women’s basketball, having attended multiple WNBA and women’s college basketball games throughout the years while also appearing in an ad for the WNBA in the past as well.
This, however, is one of the coolest things he’s done in his post-retirement days.