ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO – Fans of Kobe Bryant are in shock. They do not want to believe the news reports of a helicopter crash taking several lives including Bryant’s and his 13-year-old daughter.
“Everyone is in disbelief,” said Dereck Watts, an employee at the Larry Hughes Basketball Academy in Chesterfield. He said Bryant was one of his favorite players.
“He was the hardest worker and was always the first person in the gym and the last person to leave,” said Watts.
Some of the parents who brought their kids to the academy said Bryant was an inspiration to them.
“Nobody could top his work ethic,” said Jason Lourie. “He would do anything really to win and I just really admire that work ethic and his commitment to be successful.”
Highlights from Bryant’s career were shown on the monitors at the academy while parents watched their kids on the court.
“The drive to be the greatest, the driver to win at all costs is just something you see in Michael Jordan but not many players have that,” said parent Ik Nnakwe.
St. Louis basketball great Anthony Bonner attended a charitable event sponsored by the Albert Pujols foundation on Sunday. He called Bryant the standard for being competitive and pushing yourself to get the most out of your ability. Bonner said, “He was a great, great role model and will forever be remembered as one of the top players to ever play the game of basketball in the NBA.”