LOS ANGELES, C.A. — It's been Marina Pellicciari's dream to see a Los Angeles Lakers game.
When the 11-year-old Ramsey athlete with cerebral palsy heard her favorite basketball player Kobe Bryant would be retiring at the end of this season after a 20-year-career, her family bought tickets to a game that November day.
Marina went to Friday evening's game, and — thanks to the Lakers' VP of public relations John Black and Bryant himself — was able to get closer to her hero than she ever expected.
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw an extremely tall guy walking over to us with a huge throng of people," Marina's mom, Andrea Pellicciari, told Daily Voice.
"Marina looked over her shoulder and she buried her head in a [family member's] shoulder... and he came over... and at that point Marina just melted into him," she said. "It was amazing."
As it turns out, Bryant flew in via helicopter just to spend time with Marina, Pellicciari said.
The young athlete could be the real hero though .
Four months after undergoing surgery to minimize the effects of spastic CP , Pellicciari is already back on the court. The average recovery can take up to a year, according to Columbia University Medical Center.
Marina was also able to spend time with the team during their practice that morning through Angel City Sports, a multi-sport competition for people with disabilities that another Ramsey family introduced the Pellicciaris to.
The young athletes watched the players warm up and met head coach Byron Scott, Pellicciari said.
"We didn't have high hopes that she'd get that close to [Bryant]," Pellicciari said, "let alone spend quality time with him like that.
"It was a dream come true."