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TuelekZa/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Puerto Rico women’s basketball team is going to the 2020 Olympics and are making history in the process.

The team has qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever, according to the International Basketball Federation. Although they lost to France in an 89-51 final at the qualifying tournament on Feb. 9, the team secured their spot after Brazil was eliminated by Australia.

“It was an emotional moment ... an exciting moment," Tayra Meléndez, a forward on the national team, told ABC News about their triumphant win.

The women's basketball team has now become the fifth team in Puerto Rico's history to participate in the Olympic games, following men's basketball, baseball, women's volleyball and women's softball.

Inspiring an Island

The team’s victory is especially significant as the island continues to reel from recent deadly earthquakes, including a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that rattled the island on Jan. 7, leaving one person dead, destroying several homes and leaving thousands without power. Residents on the island are also still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation in September 2017.

"Hurricane Maria was big for us ... it was hard. It was a time where everybody suffered on the island. It was really, really tough," Gerardo "Jerry" Batista, the head coach of the team, told ABC News.

"[We were] trying to bring some good news to the people of Puerto Rico. That was great for us ... that was the goal, that was the motivation," Batista said.

Meléndez, 26, was born in Puerto Rico and later moved to Massachusetts with her parents. During her childhood, she recalls growing up on the island with her grandmother, who later passed away. Meléndez, who changed her jersey number in memory of her grandmother, said that she's grateful for the chance to carry on her family's legacy.

“She loved Puerto Rico more than anything in this world ... when I put that jersey on, it’s a reminder of everything beautiful that is that island," Meléndez said.

She said that despite all the obstacles that her fellow teammates have faced both "emotionally and physically," every challenge has only brought them closer together as a team.

"We are a family within each other," Meléndez said.

Supporting Women in Sports

Coach Batista believes that the island’s commitment and investment into the team have played a major role in the team’s success. He said that Yum Ramos, president of the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation, is among those supporters.

Ramos, who was elected to the role in 2016 after serving as tournament director for the women’s professional league, said his administration has consistently ensured that the Puerto Rico women’s basketball team was made a priority.

Not only did the team receive additional financial support, including new uniforms and increased salaries, but their financial support has now matched their male counterparts.

For Ramos, his personal dedication to the team derives from his upbringing with his mom teaching him the importance of "treating women equally."

"We believe in them ... and gave them everything they needed to be successful," Ramos told ABC News.

Meléndez, who was named director of Basketball Operations at Bryant University in Rhode Island last year, said she's especially proud of how far the team has come considering the sacrifices that many of the players have made to play -- including several of them also balancing other side gigs.

"My advice to any young girl would be to love the process ... love every minute of it. The good days and the bad days ... [and] with time, you’ll see the results," she said.

The 2020 Olympics kick off on July 24 in Tokyo.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 129, Atlanta 112
Orlando 115, Brooklyn 113
Milwaukee 137, Washington 134 -- OT
Cleveland 125, Miami 119 -- OT
Houston 123, New York 112
Dallas 139, Minnesota 123
Phoenix 131, Utah 111
L.A. Clippers 124, Memphis 97

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Columbus 4, Ottawa 3 -- OT

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Kansas 83, Oklahoma St. 58
Florida St. 82, Louisville 67
Texas 67, West Virginia 57

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Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A powerful public memorial service was held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles Monday to honor NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, nearly one month after the helicopter crash that took their lives.

Former teammate Shaquille O'Neal told the 20,000 mourners that "Kobe and I always held a deep respect and love for one another," calling him "Heaven's MVP."

Also among the speakers was Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, who emotionally opened up about her memories of her husband and daughter.

Christina Aguilera sang a stirring rendition of "Ave Maria" and the Staples Center fell silent as Alicia Keys performed Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."


Here is a recap of the service:


Michael Jordan wipes away tears

Fellow NBA great and close friend Michael Jordan wiped tears away as he spoke.

"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," he said.

Tears streamed down Jordan's face as he said he wanted to be the "best big brother I could be" for Bryant.

On a lighter note, Jordan joked that his appearance will generate "another crying meme."

"I told my wife I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or four years," he said. "That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."

Jordan said "as a basketball player, as a businessman, and a storyteller, and as father, in the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor."

"Kobe gave every last ounce of himself to whatever he was doing," Jordan said. "After basketball he showed a creative side ... that I didn't think any of us knew he had."

"In retirement he seemed so happy, he found new passions and he continued to give back as a coach, in his community," Jordan said. "More importantly, he was an amazing dad, amazing husband, who dedicated himself to his family and who loved his daughters with all his heart.

"Kobe never left anything on the court," he said. "And I think that's what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have, that's why we must live in the moment."

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant's close friend and former agent, and godfather to Gianna, said Bryant celebrated turning 40 with a vacation at a beautiful resort, where he still wanted to "watch Team Mamba game film with Gigi."

Pelinka described Bryant as the "baby whisperer" who had the "golden touch" and loved to cuddle with his daughters.

When Bryant was on the road, he was always on the phone with his daughters, never wanting to miss a moment of their lives, he said.

"The day after Kobe was gone, I was at home and feeling totally lost," Pelinka said. "I couldn’t imagine life without the strength and guidance of my best friend.”

Pelinka said he felt the need to connect with something “tangible” that represented their friendship, and his wife reminded him of a book from Bryant.

In the inside cover, Pelinka said Bryant wrote: “to RP, my brother, may you always remember to enjoy the road, especially when it’s a hard one.”

Sabrina Ionescu, a basketball player at the University of Oregon who became a mentor for Gianna, called the 13-year-old "the future" of women's basketball.

"She always wanted to learn, to go to every game she could -- college, NBA, WNBA," she said. "Kobe was helping with that because he saw it in her. Just like he saw it in me."

Ionescu recalled how Kobe Bryant would text her and check up on her, giving both her and Gianna the "blueprint" for future success.

"Through Gigi, through me, through his investment in women's basketball -- that was his next great act," she said.

Ionescu said she still texts Kobe Bryant's phone.

"The texts go through, but no response," she said. "Sometimes I find myself still waiting."

WNBA player Diana Taurasi said, "Gigi in many ways represents the future of women's basketball: a future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA the same way I wanted to be A Laker."

"Gigi already had goals to play for UConn -- that in itself showed her fearless mentality," Taurasi said.

"We promise to carry Gigi’s legacy," she vowed.

Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, who was with the NBA player since she was 17, opened up about her "soulmate" as she spoke at the service.

She recalled how he was the romantic in the relationship and planned special anniversary trips and gifts. She called his handmade presents "my most treasured gifts."

Vanessa Bryant called her husband the best "girl dad," who taught their four daughters "how to be brave and keep pushing forward when things get tough."

She described him as a "doting" and "hands-on" father and who helped bathe their kids, sing them "silly songs" and had bedtime "down to a science."

"I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was," she said. "The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes."

"I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," she said. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my—he was my everything."

Vanessa Bryant was overcome with emotion as she said Gianna "always kissed me goodnight and kissed me good morning."

"She was daddy's girl but I know she loved her mama," she said. "She was one of my very best friends."

She loved to bake, swim and dance, her mother said. Vanessa Bryant described how her daughter had "the best laugh" and loved family traditions.

She was competitive like her father, but "had a sweet grace," she said. "Her smile was like sunshine."

She said her daughter -- a rule follower -- would have made a big difference for women's basketball and was motivated to change the way women were viewed in sports.

Vanessa Bryant grew more emotional as she talked about how she won't be able to tell Gianna how "gorgeous she looks on her wedding day," or see her walk down the aisle, or "have a father-daughter dance with her daddy, dance on the dance floor with me or have babies of her own."

'Be grateful for the time we had'


Jimmy Kimmel cried as he recounted how Kobe and Gianna Bryant's faces are now plastered on walls across the world.

Kimmel called the service a "celebration of life, of their lives, and of life itself, in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated so many of the best times of our lives."

"It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time we have left with each other," Kimmel said.

Beyonce opened the service performing her hit "XO" -- which she said was one of Bryant's favorite songs -- followed by "Halo."

There is significance in the chosen date. It reflects the basketball jersey numbers worn by Kobe (No. 24) and Gianna (No. 2). Vanessa Bryant also noted that her husband was a Laker for 20 years and the two were together for 20 years.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna were among the nine people killed in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Southern California while en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy.

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bigjohn36/iStock(TORONTO) -- A Zamboni driver made his NHL debut when he took the ice as an emergency backup goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Dave Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, was at the Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto watching Saturday’s Maple Leafs game against the Carolina Hurricanes, when he saw both of the Hurricanes’ goalies go down with injuries.

Ayres, who has also been the regular practice goalie for the Marlies and has attended Maple Leafs practices and skills sessions this past season, then received an emergency call that took him from the arena's stands into the game.

“I had a couple of text messages that told me to get in there,” Ayres told reporters. “I was in the media room by myself and a guy came in and said, ‘Get going. Get ready.’”

But the emergency call didn’t phase Ayres once he stepped onto the ice, as he stopped a total of eight shots and helped the Hurricanes to a 6-3 win over the Leafs.

Ayres is only the NHL's second emergency backup goalie to enter a game over the past three seasons, and he became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his regular-season debut. He was named the No. 1 star after the game and the crowd in Toronto gave him a loud ovation.

“It was awesome. I had the time of my life out there,” he told Sportsnet after the game.

Ayers, who is also a kidney transplant survivor, wasn't sure if he would ever play hockey again following the transplant. He's been a practice goalie for the Leafs and Marlies for the last eight years.

As a backup goalie, Ayres could have stepped in for either team if needed. He was paid $500 for the game and was allowed to keep his game-worn jersey.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
L.A. Lakers 114, Boston 112
Toronto 127, Indiana 81
Denver 128, Minnesota 116
Oklahoma City 131, San Antonio 103
Chicago 126, Washington 117
New Orleans 115, Golden State 101
Portland 107, Detroit 104

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Washington 5, Pittsburgh 3
Buffalo 2, Winnipeg 1
Dallas 2, Chicago 1
NY Islanders 4, San Jose 1
Calgary 4, Detroit 2
St. Louis 4, Minnesota 1
Edmonton 4, Los Angeles 2
Vegas 6, Anaheim 5 -- OT

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Ohio St. 79, Maryland 72
Indiana 68, Penn St. 60
Creighton 81, Butler 59
Seton Hall 81, St. John's 65

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Sezeryadigar/iStock(CHICAGO) -- Casey Urlacher, the brother of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, was among those charged this week in an illegal offshore gambling scheme.

Urlacher and eight others helped supposed ringleader Vincent Delgiudice -- also known as "Uncle Mick" -- take sports bets and placed them in an illegal sports book based in Costa Rica, prosecutors alleged in a 28 page indictment unsealed in the Northern District of Illinois.

"It was further part of the conspiracy that Vincent Delgiudice used Federal Express to cause the cashier's checks and money orders to be delivered to the addresses in Costa Rica supplied by Individuals 1 and 2," the indictment says. "And others who worked for or were associated with Company A."

Urlacher is also the Mayor of Mettawa, Illinois and prosecutors alleged that he also made bets with Delgiduice, who prosecutors say accepted wagers from as many as 1,000 gamblers.

According to the Justice Department, a "law enforcement search of Delgiudice’s residence in Orland Park seized more than $1.06 million in cash; silver bars and jewelry valued at $347,895; and gold coins valued at $92,623."

DOJ added, "The indictment seeks forfeiture of these items, as well as Delgiudice’s residence. It also seeks a personal money judgment against Delgiudice of $8 million."

Bettors, including Urlacher, would send or meet with Delgiudice and pay him in cashier’s checks, before creating a website to further illegally bet on sports games -- the website was called "unclemick.com."

One of Deligudice’s co-conspirators, Matthew Knight, once texted a message to Gambler A, which said "Morning Bronco, going through figs, can you please tell Bronco 33 to pay or play, hasn’t played since February down 938."

In another instance Deliguidice told another co-conspirator "Todd Blaken by phone that he had 1,006 "customers" and had won $100,000, or "about $100 per player."

A lawyer for Urlacher has not returned ABC News' request for comment

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fizkes/iStock(CHICAGO) -- An Illinois man who spent the past several months training seven hours a day, including 1,500 sit-ups daily, has broken the male world record for longest time in the plank position.

George Hood, 62, of Naperville, Illinois, held a plank for eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, according to Guinness World Records, which certified Hood's record.

Hood -- a retired law enforcement officer who now works as a personal trainer -- set his first world record for the plank in 2011, holding it for one hour and 20 minutes. He most recently lost the title in 2016 and said his children inspired him to try to win it again.

"I'm the father of three sons and part of me did this for them," said Hood, whose adult sons have followed their dad into law enforcement careers.

Hood was also inspired to compete for the plank title again to raise mental health awareness. He completed the challenge on Feb. 15 at an Illinois gym, 515 Fitness, that focuses on using exercise to help treat mental health.

"I’m not a paid athlete," he said. "I do this thing because I can and I can also help raise awareness."

"I’ve seen enough folks in the military and my law enforcement comrades who haven’t fared so well," Hood said. "We want to break that stigma of seeking [mental health] help."

Hood deployed his own mental toughness to survive in a plank position for the length of a typical workday for most people. He listed to rock music to pass the time and focused on picturing himself as a rock solid tree.

"I often envision myself as a tree when I’m on that platform because all the energy I exude from that platform comes from earth," he said. "Like a tree I have roots and those roots go deep and when they do I’m ready to weather any storm that comes across my platform. I’m ready to stay in my pose without wavering."

Niki Perry, the founder of 515 Fitness, was by Hood's side for much of the eight hours and also worked with him during his training to prepare him mentally.

"We focused on mental toughness and the four c’s that you have to be able to get through to get through something as arduous as this: Commitment, consistency, core beliefs and evaluating challenges," she said, adding that the gym also arranged for members to speak out on their "why's" in life to provide inspiration to Hood.

At the end of the eight hours, Hood celebrated his new world title by doing 75 push-ups.

He said he thinks this plank world record title will be his last. Hood is now eyeing new challenges, like the winning the Guinness World Record for most push-ups completed in one hour, which currently stands at 2,806.

His advice for other people looking to hold even just a 20-second plank or do one push-up is to just get started.

"Everybody has a starting point," Hood said. "Everybody starts somewhere and then, like anything in life, you build from that."

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Franklin County Ohio Sheriff(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Two former Ohio State University football players accused of kidnapping and raping a woman were indicted on Friday.

Amir Riep, 21, Jahsen Wint, 21, are each facing two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced.

The charges stem from an alleged Feb. 4 incident involving a 19-year-old woman, according to police.

The woman is said to have visited the apartment of Riep and Wint to watch a movie. However, at some point in the night, she was allegedly restrained and forced to have non-consenual vaginal and oral sex with them, according to the prosecutors.

The two men turned themselves in last week and were being held at Franklin County Jail without bond. It's not yet clear if either has obtained legal representation.

If convicted, each faces a maximum prison term of 33 years and would have to register as a sex offender.

Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day said in a previous statement he had dismissed Riep and Wint from the team.

"I am not making any statement on the criminal charges, but it is clear they did not live up to our standards and my expectations," he said.

Riep was a cornerback and Wint played safety.

Their arraignment is scheduled for March 6.

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artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) — The battle between the U.S. Women's National Team and the United States Soccer Federation continued on Thursday, with both sides filing motions in court.

Last March, 28 members of the team filed a lawsuit against the federation alleging gender discrimination in their treatment versus how the governing body treats the men's team.

The lawsuit cites not just pay, but also the denial of "at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment."

On Thursday, lawyers representing the players filed a motion seeking more than $66 million in damages.

The USSF, in turn, asked for the case to be dismissed.

A trial has been set for May 5, just weeks before the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Milwaukee 126, Detroit 106
Atlanta 129, Miami 124
Charlotte 103, Chicago 93
Philadelphia 112, Brooklyn 104 -- OT
Sacramento 129, Memphis 125
Houston 135, Golden State 105

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Toronto 4, Pittsburgh 0
Montreal 4, Washington 3 -- OT
New Jersey 2, San Jose 1
Philadelphia 4 Columbus 3 -- OT
Winnipeg 5, Ottawa 1
St. Louis 1, Arizona 0
Vegas 5, Tampa Bay 3
Los Angeles 5, Florida 4

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Arizona St. 77, Oregon 72
Colorado 70, Southern Cal 66
Iowa 85, Ohio St. 76
BYU 85, Santa Clara 75
Arizona 89, Oregon St. 63
Gonzaga 71, San Francisco 54

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