NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who died when the helicopter they were traveling on crashed Sunday morning in Calabasas, a city north of Los Angeles.
Bryant, who spent his entire career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, was considered to be one of his generation’s greatest players, earning five NBA championships in 20 seasons, along with numerous other accolades. Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 and was invested in various other ventures since his retirement.
Despite initially disputed reports, authorities later confirmed that on board the helicopter with Bryant was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The news spread across various social media platforms and local stations rapidly early Sunday afternoon. Twitter and Instagram accounts started posting tributes in the memory of the late basketball legend, many still in shock over the news.
Minnesota State University men’s basketball head coach, Matt Margenthaler, said he was in disbelief when he first heard the news. “It’s like the whole country came to a standstill,” Margenthaler said.
Margenthaler emphasized Bryant’s competitiveness, both on and off the court, describing it as a trait all coaches would want their players to have.
Margenthaler, who is in his 19th year of coaching at MSU, said he got to see Bryant play, describing him as “one of a kind.”
After the news spread, some of Margenthaler’s players reached out to him and expressed their sorrow. Freshman guard Noah Hart was doing homework when he saw a Twitter notification about the incident on his phone. “I turned on ESPN immediately and sat there, and didn’t do anything for the rest of the day,” Hart said. “It’s like time froze.”
Hart and his family took a trip to Los Angeles when he was 8-years-old. During the trip, Hart attended a Lakers game where he and his brother got to be ball boys for the Lakers. “We were there extremely early, so you know Kobe was the first one out,” Hart said. “We got to see him work out and see his work ethic. It was truly inspiring.”
Hart also drew inspiration from Bryant as he recovered from his recent knee injury.
NBA teams playing Sunday afternoon held a moment of silence before the start of the games. Some teams also paid their respects by taking 24-second shot clock and 8-second violations in memory of Bryant. “It was a beautiful thing they did with the shot clock violations, and I’m sure there’ll be more of those this week,” Margenthaler said.
Juwan McCloud, who played for the Mavericks during the 2018-19 season, was planning a trip to Los Angeles with his friends when he found out about Bryant’s death. McCloud stressed on Bryant’s competitiveness and how everyone could learn from it. “Just perfecting your craft and really taking it seriously, and it being a lifestyle,” McCloud said. “How can you not take that as inspiration?”
Header photo: Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant waves to the fans after his introduction before a game against the Utah Jazz, in Salt Lake City. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)