ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – Mark Houppert sat down with Kobe Bryant more than 10 years ago but says the meeting was something he’ll never forget and is mourning the loss of who he’s called he’s favorite athlete of all time.
Mark Houppert is a Webster man living with Parkinson’s disease. He is also a Kobe Bryant superfan and was able to meet his idol in a 2010 trip, something he called the meeting of a lifetime.
“Best player of all time,” Mark Houppert said about the late Kobe Bryant.
Signed clothes, pictures, and posters hang around Mark Houppert’s room, memories from his meeting with Kobe Bryant tens years ago.
“He could have came in there and given us the 5 minutes, we would have been fine with that but he didn’t. He, we got a connection,” said Lori Houppert, mom of a basketball family.
Mark Houppert was diagnosed with Parkison’s disease at the age of three.
He was a sophomore in high school when a group called The Rochester Dream Factory made his wish come true.
The organization sends children with chronic disease and illness on trips of a lifetime. Mark Houppert and his family were sent to an LA game in 2010 to sit courtside and met with Kobe afterward.
“This is the prized possession,” said Lori Houppert, talking about a pair of sunglasses owned by Kobe Bryant. “He had taken his sunglasses off and put them down. Mark’s put he’s sunglasses on and I’m like, put Kobe’s sunglasses down, take them off. And Kobe goes, hey let’s get some pictures.”
Lori Houppert says they didn’t just walk away with glasses but a friend for life and memories that will last forever.
“Kobe to us is a member of our family. what he’s done not only for Mark but our entire family, people just wouldn’t understand,” said Lori Houppert.
In the wake of Kobe’s death, the Houpperts say they are keeping Kobe’s family in their thoughts.
“His family is going through this, it’s hard on them,” said Mark Houppert.
Mark Houppert is receiving regular treatment for his disease and the family says he is healthy. They hope to visit the national basketball hall of fame where Kobe Bryant will be inducted for the 2020 class.