SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Family, fans, and athletes around the world are mourning the loss of one of the most iconic and recognizable NBA players to ever grace the hardwood.
Former NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant and four others including his 13-year old daughter Gianna died during a helicopter crash in California Sunday morning.
Bryant is a finalist to be enshrined as part of the class of 2020 at the Basketball Hall of Fame. Fans of all ages in Springfield spoke about the impact Bryant had on the sport.
Some said they looked up to the player known as the “Black Mamba.”
“He inspired me a lot I used to watch a lot of his video and stuff like that. I really liked him and it’s sad that he passed away. Because he really meant a lot to a lot of people,” said Andre Torres.
Bryant’s death hits closer to home for Jovanda Traynham from Albany. Her 24-year-old son Rayquan Murphy who idolized Kobe growing up, was killed in a traffic accident just two weeks ago.
“He would always say he was a good basketball player and he used to always say I’m going to be just like him, I’m going to be just like him,” Jovanda remembered.
She told 22News Bryant’s death brought back memories from when she first found out about her son.
“I was just stunned by the tragedies. His mom and I lost our sons in a tragedy. My son died in a car accident and here it is today, I learned he was in a tragedy in a helicopter. It’s sad really sad.”
Bryant was 41-years-old.
Springfield area teenagers visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame court were well aware of Kobe Bryant’s legacy. Fifteen-year-old Andre Torres of Holyoke, a member of the Boys and Girls Club considered Kobe a role model.
“He inspired me, a lot like I used to watch him play, he meant a lot to a lot of people,” said Torres.
No doubt many in the days to come who visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield will gravitate to all reminders of this legend whose greatest recognition by the sport he loved would be yet to come.
Kobe Bryant is among the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 candidates to be inducted in September.