KIMT NEWS 3 SPORTS – Sunday morning the basketball world was rattled with the tragic death of former Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant. The RCTC men’s basketball team is among the many across the nation grieving over the loss of an idol.
When the Yellowjackets were asked about one of their most fond memories of Bryant, it was wadding up a paper ball and shouting “Kobe!” while watching it fly into a trash can.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t make his loss and less painful.
“Everybody wanted to be like Kobe. Everybody had that moment when they’re shooting that garbage into the trashcan yelling out ‘Kobe!’ every single time,” said Kong Kong.
It is a rare athlete who is able to transcend the game they play in. Kobe Bryant, though, did that and more. We all have at least one memory of Bryant and now we’re struggling to come to terms with the loss of an iconic figure.
I thought it was fake,” Isaac Witt said. “I had one of my teammates send it to me and I thought there was no way this was real and I was just stunned. It was just a tragedy….that was my idol growing up and to see that he was no longer here was just heartbreaking.”
For RCTC basketball players and athletes across the nation, Kobe was more than a basketball player.
He was an inspiration.
“Kobe meant basically the wold to me,” said Antonio Maddox. “He’s the whole reason I picked up a basketball.”
“He just showed everybody that no matter what as long as you put in the hard work, as long as you put in the time, the effort, the blood, sweat, tears – you’re going to get the reward at the end,” Kong added.
Maddox was particularly struck by the loss of Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. He had hoped to see her shine in the WNBA.
“R.I.P. Gigi because we all know that girl was going to be something great and it’s sad she didn’t even get to grow into the young lady that she was becoming to be. That’s a real hard loss, too.”
As they Yellowjackets deal with their grief, they are convinced the best way to carry on is embrace the Mamba mentality.
“I feel like if Kobe were still alive, I think he would say you’ve got to keep going,” said Karmoga Lero. You’ve got to push through. Don’t take anything for granted because life is short and unexpected.”
The players also said that part of pushing forward is carrying on the legacy of Kobe, showing their kids who he was, and encouraging them to aim that paper wad at the trashcan.