The basketball community is mourning in the wake of the death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, California.
Kobe’s daughter Gianna was one of the other eight people killed in the accident. The 13-year-old was a budding basketball star in her own right, with dreams to carry on her father’s legacy.
The two were en route to a tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Gianna’s team, coached by Kobe, was scheduled to play Jason Terry and his Lady Drive Nation squad at noon.
It obviously never happened, and Terry recounted his side of the story Monday on FOX Sports Southwest. He parked in front of the academy around 11 a.m., and as he was walking into the gym he received a text from his wife, informing him of Kobe’s death.
Terry went numb.
“I run up to the first official I could see and told him, ‘look, there’s no more basketball. We cannot play another game today. Kobe has passed away,’’’ the Arizona alum said. “And immediately the ball stopped bouncing, everyone converged on one of the courts, and we all just gathered around, got on one knee and one gentleman...spoke very eloquently. He said a huge prayer. His message was, ‘you never know when someone you know or love may be taken away from you, so hug your loved ones, tell them you love them. Just embrace every moment.’”
It was only a day earlier Terry was sitting in that same gym watching Kobe coach his daughter’s team. His bond with Gianna was evident.
“She hit a 3, she turned and smiled, he smiled, and she got back on defense,” Terry said. “That memory for me is in my mind because you just never know. And they were on their way to play my team, to play against our team in that gym. And it’s just heartbreaking.”
"We cannot play another game today, because Kobe has passed away."— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) January 28, 2020
Jason Terry discusses how his daughter's team was scheduled to play Gianna Bryant's team yesterday. pic.twitter.com/oDRLh2XzSk
What made Kobe special, Terry said, was not just his greatness as a basketball player but the impact he left on the world.
Kobe’s message of determination, hard work, and self-improvement inspired millions of people from all walks of life, including me.
A kid from California, I fell in love with sports because of Kobe Bryant. And, as it turned out, sports are what fueled my passion for writing. So I can say with certainty that I would not be here covering the Arizona Wildcats or running this website without Kobe.
So, thank you Kobe, though I wish we had more time with you.