By: Madi DeVries
It is now almost impossible to turn on the TV or go on social media without seeing the news that Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, or Gigi as he called her, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, Jan. 26.
This news has shocked many across the country, and the world, and has been on many people’s minds.
Junior on the University of Findlay Men’s Basketball team, Brady Wildermuth, recalled the moment he found out that Bryant had passed.
“I was with my friends in the living room when one of saw the TMZ initial post about Kobe’s death,” said Wildermuth. “We all froze when we saw it.”
Wildermuth added that neither he nor his friends initially believed it, given that it came from TMZ, which is not always the most credible source. It was only after the numerous reports came out about his death that it dawned on them that Bryant was truly gone.
“We couldn’t believe what was going on since he was the guy that we grew up watching, as others did with Michael Jordan, and the youth watching and idolizing LeBron James,” said Wildermuth.
Women’s Basketball sophomore, Sydney Kin, also shared her feelings about the moment when she found out the legendary Laker had died.
“When I first heard the news, my heart sank, and I didn’t know how to react,” said Kin. “He was such an inspiration to so many of us athletes because of his strong mentality.”
Sophomore women’s basketball player, Amber Schweiger, praised Bryant and his attention to detail and his unmatched work ethic.
“Kobe was more than basketball. He supported men and women, he was a family man, and had a ‘hard work’ mentality in everything he did.”
Kin voiced similar thoughts.
“I think the whole Laker community is going to be at a loss for words for quite some time. He was one of the greats and losing him so soon is devastating to so many people, but especially basketball players,” Kin said. “He inspired so many of us with his mentality and by the way he played the game of basketball.”
Kin also spoke about admiring Bryant for his constant interest in the WNBA. Kin said that she feels the WNBA is underrated and that, as a female basketball player, seeing someone as admired as Kobe Bryant taking an interest in the women of the game meant a lot to her personally.
Kobe played all of his 20 seasons in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers and was one of the best players in the NBA, racking up achievements such as five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, all in all being an 18-time NBA All-Star, with both his numbers, 8 and 24, retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
This loss is immeasurable to the basketball community, the people of Los Angeles, and most importantly his wife and three surviving daughters, whom he and Gianna left behind. His legacy will be remembered and cherished always.
Bryant, known as the Black Mamba, has left the world with many inspirational words throughout the years, but some almost seem like they were meant to be heard after he passed.
In 2016, about a week after Bryant’s final game on an NBA court, he made a video speech to the athletes in the Special Olympics. He said, “Hello everyone, I’m so sorry I can’t be with you tonight. However, I couldn’t completely miss the chance to take a moment to share some thoughts with all of you, your dreams are up to you,” said Bryant. “I encourage you to always be curious, always seek out things you love and always work hard once you find it. So with that, I’ll let you carry on with your evening…Please know I’m thinking of you, supporting you, and encouraging you, always. Peace.”
Seven other were killed in the crash alongside the Bryant’s; Ara Zobayan, 49, the pilot; Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant basketball coach at Bryant’s academy; John Altobelli, 56, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa; his wife, Keri Altobelli, 46; their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 13; Payton Chester, 13, who played on Bryant’s basketball teams; and her mother, Sarah Chester, 45.