On Jan. 26 at approximately 10 a.m., a Sikorsky S-76b helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Calif., killing retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant as well as his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers on board. From postponed NBA games to lighting Los Angeles City Hall purple and gold, tributes to the former NBA legend and the passengers on board are pouring in to commemorate his loss. Aside from tributes around the world, students at Downey High are also weighing in on this tragedy.
Girls varsity basketball player, Daniella Gomez, 11, explained the impact Bryant had on her life as a basketball player as well as her whereabouts at the time of his death.
“It was a really hard experience because like Kobe Bryant was one of the people I looked up to growing up, and I got the inspiration to play basketball and just overall be a good hardworking person because he’s done so much, and it’s not like he didn’t work to get where he was,” Gomez stated. “It was just unexpected like I was taking a nap at the time and then I get a call, and they told me that Kobe died, and I didn’t believe them at first, so I had to look it up and the news went to my family, and we were all just following the news all day.”
Aside from the impact Bryant’s death had on his fans, he was also an inspiration to many from around the world who either play or aspire to play basketball because of him. This also applies to Downey, for a couple of students explained how the former basketball star had on them.
Girls Varsity Basketball player, Rachel Spinosa, 11, gave her opinion on the tragedy as well as how Kobe Bryant influenced her to persevere through injuries suffered on the court.
“When I was recovering from my ACL surgery last year, I looked up to [Kobe] and his hard work to recover from his major injury,” Spinosa stated. “[I] always told myself that if he could do it, so could I.”
Furthermore, Basketball player for Whittier, Downey High Student, and dedicated fan of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Echeverria, 11, also weighed in and stated where he was at the time of Bryant’s death as well as his thoughts on the death of his idol.
“I was just entering my house after playing basketball at LA fitness, suddenly my phone began to blow up about Kobe dying. At first, I didn’t want to believe the devastating news, but then after 30 minutes, more reporters announced it, and I emotionally broke down,” Echeverria said. “He was my idol, and I looked up to him when I first started playing basketball in 4th grade. I had thought his last game was going to be the saddest part, but him dying hurt everyone who played sports or just loved him for his mentality and being an amazing father figure. He was one of those people who you think or wouldn’t die soon, it all just happened so sudden.”
Tributes to Bryant are not only pouring in from the basketball community, but also students from other sports are paying their respects as well. Softball player, Jasmine Hernandez, 12, gave her response on the recent news regarding Bryant’s death.
“Kobe Bryant was a legend, he inspired so many people and worked hard to be the best athlete and person he could possibly be,” Hernandez said. “He didn’t deserve what happened to him or his daughter. He will always be remembered.”
Another student, Andrea Flores, 10, gave an in-depth description of her initial reaction to the news of his death as well as an explanation of how Kobe has inspired her to pursue her dream of playing basketball.
“He was my favorite Lakers player, and he inspired me so much [that] when I heard about him going directly from high school to the NBA, even if some people said he wouldn’t make it. This gave me hope that I would make [the] high school basketball team and possibly do B-Ball in College. I can’t pick one amazing moment that he did because honestly, they were awesome, and I loved when he won the league with Shaq that one time. But yeah I just say rest in peace Kobe because he inspired me and now he is also one of my reasons why I want to play basketball.”
Not only are Downey High students grieving over the loss of a basketball superstar, but the world is also grieving as well, for he was an inspiration to many people across the globe for his remarkable career in the NBA, his Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball, and his work in championing girl’s youth sports as well as many other ground-breaking achievements made throughout his life.