Community mourns basketball legend


Antonio Villaraigosa, Creative Commons

Kobe Bryant waves to fans during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2010 Championship Parade. Bryant won five NBA championships throughout his career.

Grace Krumplitsch and Paige Retajczyk

WEB EXCLUSIVE Many members of the athletic and school community alike joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who tragically died in a fatal helicopter crash on Sunday, by posting tributes on social media and sharing the impact his career had on their lives. 

“I put a picture of him on Instagram because even though I wasn’t a huge basketball fan, I saw how much of a role model he was to so many different people,” sophomore Cassia McTamney said. “It really upsets me and I feel very badly not only for him, but everyone else that died in the helicopter.”

Bryant’s personal helicopter, a twin-engine Sikorsky S-76, famously known as “The Mamba,” explosively crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California just before 10 a.m. on Sunday carrying his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven others who were on their way to a girls’ travel basketball game, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. 

Kobe Bryant was drafted for the Los Angeles Lakers straight from high school in 1996 and continued to play for the team for 20 years, winning five NBA championships and playing in 15 NBA All Star games. Upon retirement from the league in 2016, Bryant, and his fierce work ethic, nicknamed the “mamba mentality,” remained an inspiration to many as he coached his daughter’s basketball team and started Oscar-winning production company, Granity Studios. 

“Kobe’s impact could be felt on and off the court,” junior Halsey Williamson said. “Although he will be known as a gifted athlete and dedicated father, he lent his story to his animated film which drew many people like me to become a fan.” 

While many mourn his death, others acknowledge the faults in his career as he was accused of rape in an admittance of adultery with his accuser in 2003. The case never reached a trial and was settled in March of 2005 with undisclosed terms of settlement. 

“I have heard of a rape allegation against him before and how he lost some brand deals, but gained others back,” McTamney said. 

The Los Angeles Lakers retired No. 8 and No. 24 – the two numbers Bryant held throughout his career. As a tribute to the basketball legend, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, posted on Twitter that his team will retire No. 24 in solidarity with Bryant’s fans.

“Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father. Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,” Cuban wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

A game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed “out of respect for the Lakers organization,” as the players, coaches and fans continue to mourn, according to the NBA. 

“As a basketball player, I have always looked up to him and aspired to play like him on the court,” junior Bella Wasserman said. “My thoughts and prayers go towards his family as this is a very sad time.”