Local athletes say their final farewell to NBA legend Kobe Bryant

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ST. LOUIS – Over 20,000 people gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the lives of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and the 7 other individuals who lost their lives in an unexpected helicopter accident on January 26.

Millions of viewers tuned in to ESPN to watch family, friends, and colleagues that included Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Time Duncan, Diana Taurasi, and Geno Auriemma to speak on the unforgettable memories they shared with both Kobe and Gianna.

Local St. Louis athletes wanted their chance to say their final farewells to the Laker’s legend. Kobe inspired these young individuals on and off the court. His infamous “Mamba Mentality” has fueled their hunger to succeed as an athlete and as people in the community.

“He’s always wanted more out himself and out of everybody he hangs around with. That’s how he inspires me; just to be a better person than who I am today,” said Kenneth Ellis, Ritenour High School basketball player

The 5-time NBA Champion motivated people on and off the court with his “Mamba Mentality”, relentless love for his family, and overall passion for people.

Kobe was an ambassador for men’s and women’s basketball. Gigi looked to be following in his footsteps. The 13-year-old prodigy aspired to play at the UCONN and in the WNBA. Her dream was cut short. Kobe’s next chapter was cut short.

The basketball world misses him.

Thank you to Mary Barton and Jayda Jansen (Maryville University), Kelsey Mack, Kaeli Benedict, Monté Henderson, and Kellen Thames (Pattonville High School), Landon Evans and Rylee Mulvaney (Kirkwood High School), and Janiyah Taylor and Kenneth Ellis (Ritenour High School) for taking the time to honor a man that has meant so much to the game of basketball and to you personally.

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