Retired Laker legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were killed, along with seven others, in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif.
Bryant was only 41-years-old, and his daughter, just 13.
The unfortunate news was a shock to people around the world, and many at Cosumnes River College were affected by his death as well.
The Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Jonathan James, said he was on campus for a tournament to raise money for the program when he heard the news about Bryant.
James described everyone around him as “shocked” when hearing about the news and said he was in “disbelief for a long time” before it registered.
“I’m still processing it honestly,” said James. “It’s not as much about what he did for the game of basketball but more of what he meant to it globally. What he meant to the sport trickled over into what he meant to people pursuing any type of goal or dream.”
James alluded to Bryant’s work ethic, the infamous “Mamba Mentality,” and said he was inspired by how infectious it became to people in other areas not limited to basketball.
“From everything I’ve learned, he’s such a driven person. I think it was really neat he loved to learn new languages and loved to learn in general,” said Minet Gunther, the department chair of kinesiology health and athletics.
Kamil Grimes, a 19-year-old psychology major, said he woke up devastated by Bryant’s death, and that Kobe was a huge idol to him growing up.
“Playing basketball as a kid, he was one of my biggest idols. My dad used to make me shoot 10 free throws in a row before I could leave practice because Kobe recommended it to younger players,” Grimes said.
U.S. Army recruiter James Mata, 30, noted Bryant’s hard work ethic.
“I watch a lot of motivational stuff and read a lot of motivational quotes,” said Mata. “He said a lot of good things about laziness and the work ethic, putting in the work, grinding, stuff like that.”
Fouche Conor, a 21-year-old in the EMT program said the news didn’t seem real.
“First when I heard about it, it did feel unreal. Especially being an African American male, his presence being so prevalent in my life and being so motivating,” Conor said. “Later when I heard his daughter Gianna was with him, it really made me think about my family, the time I have here with people on this Earth, the opportunities that I also have.”
Conor also highlighted the work Bryant did for women.
“Man, coming from a single mother household, for him just to raise women like that; women’s sports and women’s rights, to just be so involved with all that, it was something so amazing to watch. It really put importance on that we all have an opportunity here, we all have the ability to be great. Man, woman alike; all the different colors alike.”
James recalled celebrating his birthday at home by watching Bryant play in the final game of his career in which he scored 61 points. He said that was his fondest memory of the NBA legend.
“My greatest memory was his last game when he scored 61 on my birthday,” said James. “When the game was over, I literally cried because it’s like seeing a legend walk away from the thing that made him a legend. I’ll never forget that day.”