The death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26 shocked the world. Bryant’s legacy inspired CCBC Essex’s Mya Moye to honor him with the performance of a lifetime.
On Jan. 29, Moye scored 81 points in 37 minutes in a 139-40 win over Northern Virginia Community College, shooting 32-for-56 from the field and 11-for-18 from 3-point range while adding nine rebounds, seven assists and six steals. In the same game, her teammate Kasey Gagan had a quadruple double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists and 15 steals.
The 81-point total matches Bryant’s career high, which he set in 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. It remains the second most points scored in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points on March 2, 1962.
Bryant was Moye’s favorite player and she was overcome with emotion during the game.
“I just wanted to go out there and play hard,” Moye said. “I was excited. It wasn’t really planned that I would do that, it was just a happy moment for me.”
Before he died, Bryant was an advocate for the women’s and girls basketball. He frequented WNBA games and helped coach Gianna’s basketball team at his Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. After his death, others have looked to build women’s basketball, according to CCBC Essex coach Mike Seney.
“Kobe having his daughter Gianna playing girls basketball moved him,” Seney said. “A couple of days before he passed, he discussed a few women that he thought could play in the NBA. So, he was definitely bringing notoriety to the women’s game. I remember him wearing sweatshirts with the WNBA logo.
“I really feel like that’s helping a lot of young women across America because Kobe was one of, if not the greatest basketball player to ever live. When he gave that stamp of approval, it helps. ‘SportsCenter’ posted Mya scoring 81 and for a woman to do that it welcomes great attention to the game.”
A Florida A&M transfer, Moye is third in National Junior College Athletic Association Division II in scoring with 23 points per game and fourth with 6.7 assists. Her scoring has been one of the top aspects of her game, as she averaged a team-high 11.3 points per game with the NCAA Division I Rattlers in her freshman season.
Seney was excited to get a player who could change the fortune of the program. For 15 straight seasons, the Knights didn’t have a women’s basketball team. Now, in their first season returning to the court, they are ranked 13th in nation. Moye has been a key component of his team’s success, and Seney has followed her since high school days.
“I have been watching Mya since she was in the 11th grade at Antacostia High School [in Washington],” Seney said. “I was just always a fan of hers and the way she’s scored the ball. She’s always been a scorer — she had 50 points in her championship game in high school. She’s always been a ridiculous scorer.
“When she went down to FAMU, I stayed up on her from afar and continued to watch her grow as a basketball player and a woman. When I got the phone call this summer that things really didn’t work out at FAMU and she wanted a second chance to get herself back out there, we jumped on it right away.”
Coming to CCBC Essex was a slam dunk decision for Moye. Seney had a vested interest in her game, running a program at Harford Community College from 2014 to 2019 that went 135-15 (.900), won five straight NJCAA Region XX Division I and Maryland Juco tournament championships and appeared in the NJCAA Division I tournament.
“I just really wanted to come here and build a pedigree,” Seney said. “We’ve done a little bit more than that. We’ve been ranked in the top 15 most of the year throughout the entire nation. I think that with what Mya did the other night, it brings a little more notoriety to our program and it’s going to help our future Knights to come in and get the recognition that they deserve.”
Moye has been offered several Division I scholarships to return to the NCAA, along with some other teammates. The immediate goal is turning CCBC Essex into one of the best women’s basketball programs in Maryland.
The success that Seney had running his former program drew Moye to play for him and to raise her game to new heights.
“I wanted to play for Coach Mike,” Moye said. “He ran a strong program over there at Harford. I knew what he was capable of, so I just wanted to play for him. I knew that he was surrounded by winners and I wanted to come win too.”
Moye’s main goal is to to go out a winner at CCBC Essex and leave a lasting individual legacy for years to come.