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Here at Lakers Fanclub UK, we are mourning the loss of the larger than life, once in a generation talent, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe “Bean” Bryant. The loss of Kobe, his daughter Gianna and the 7 other souls that perished on Sunday 26th January 2020 has had a profound effect on the Lakers community and has every person who has heard about this tragedy hugging their loved ones a little bit tighter.

We have a group of die-hard Lakers fans who are understandably incredibly upset and, broken-hearted about the loss of Kobe. We love and respect every member of our Lakers community and felt it was our duty to allow some of the members of our team to express their grief to try and heal.

Rest in peace to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah and Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.

 The nine victims of the tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant have been pictured

Q: What emotions are you currently feeling now about the loss of Kobe?

Amandeep Rai: “I think it’s kind of setting in now that this isn’t a hoax that we see from TMZ. Suddenly a dark cloud has formed above my head where I can’t escape this feeling- I guess it’s grief that will drift off eventually but it’s still pretty raw at the moment.”

Cole Pollard: “Still raw. I’m constantly going between being numb and crying. I just keep going back to it not being fair in my head. The man Kobe Bryant gave us so so much. He did not deserve this.

On Sunday night, a couple of hours after the news broke, I was scrolling through twitter trying to take in what was happening. The basketball world falling to its knees. Then I saw it, a video of a helicopter tail spinning and crashing into the Calabasas hills. Oh, how I wish I never saw that video, it keeps replaying in my head. All I can think is the panic and chaos those poor souls went through before impact. I hope they can rest now. And yet I can’t let Kobe rest.

As I type this it’s 1:30 in the morning, I have work at 8 tomorrow. Yet I am sat in my living room no thought of going to bed. Watching the 81 he gave us. I tear up with every shot he makes. One, in particular, 1 minute 15 seconds left in the 3rd Kobe makes a steal as Toronto tries to advance the ball, he controls it and throws it down hard on the rim. That embodies Kobe, he made it look easy. But it wasn’t. It was his hunger and drive to be the greatest ever that made everything he did look so effortless. Yet you could tell it was so exhausting.”

Christopher Sherwood: “I can’t sugar coat it. I feel empty. Kobe was always an escape for me from the harsh reality of real life. No matter how tough the day, I knew I could stick on the Laker game and there was a fairly good chance he could cheer me up. Losing him, especially like this, is a harsh reminder of how short life is.”

Jonathan Kiernan: “I felt physically sick when I heard the terrible news about Kobe Bryant. He has been my idol for 20 years, I have grown up with him and have become an adult with him. I had always thought that Kobe would still be around long into my older years and he would be a Bill Russell esque figure in the NBA, dropping pearls of wisdom and making sure that every player he comes into contact with knows what has come before them.”

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Q: What is your fondest Kobe Bryant memory?

Amandeep: “My fondest Kobe memory was when his jerseys were retired, I don’t know why but I felt that scene gave us all closure and kind of somewhat closed his chapter and era in the Lakers, a fitting send-off.”

Cole: “The final game, he gave us everything man, emptied the tank. I remember it as I hadn’t fallen deep for basketball yet. I remember thinking to myself, tonight is gonna be something special, something real.

Up until that point, I would rarely stay up for games. But that night I went to bed early, I must have set about six alarms, and I got up and watched that magic. I remember the chills as he got hot. The pure elation as he came up, went around that screen and gave us, the Lakers, the NBA, the World, one last game-winner.”

Christopher: “It would have to be being in the building with my dad when he dropped 62 on Dirk and the Mavs in just three quarters. The energy inside Staples that night was simply incredible. It was almost as if every shot he took was certain to go in.

A close second is winning the 2010 finals and watching my best friend (a Celtics fan) slump out of my living room into the night at 5 am to embark on a 30-minute miserable walk home. Victory never tasted sweeter.” 

Jonathan: “My fondest memory of Kobe has to be winning his 5th ring against the Boston Celtics in 2010. Kobe did not shoot well that game but he helped anyway he could by grabbing numerous boards and playing tough defense.

Watching the final buzzer sound and Kobe mounting the scorer’s table will forever be etched into my memory as long as I live.”

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Q: What did Kobe Bryant mean to the greater NBA community?

Amandeep: “Kobe Bryant far surpassed the NBA community, surpassed borders/cultures and sports. He was and still is an icon. His sporting career speaks for itself, but his mentality and his attitude to being a parent is something everyone can learn from.”

Cole: “All you have to do is watch the first 32 seconds of every game and you have your answer. It moves me to see the teams and the fans, that Kobe relished in upsetting all these years, put all that aside and recognize that a Father, a Husband, a Son, a Brother, a Teammate, and an Icon perished tragically and suddenly on Sunday. Not to mention a young woman who was going to change the way the world looks at the WNBA.

This is more than Basketball, this is a sign that life is short. It comes and goes in a moment. It doesn’t matter what you have in any other aspect of life. If you have family, you have everything. Kobe had that. The world knows and appreciates that.”

Christopher: “He was a legend in every sense of the word. Larger than life. You only have to look around the association to see the impact Kobe had. Today’s players grew up on Kobe (as I did) and his imprint is on so much all around the league. It will be interesting to see what the league does to commemorate him moving forward.”

Jonathan: “From the sheer outpour of emotion in the NBA community it is incredibly clear to see how highly thought of he was not just in the NBA but worldwide.

Kobe gave a helping hand to those willing to learn. He demanded excellence from each player he spoke to or any person who wished to improve their focus, leadership or dedication to their craft.

The NBA has lost a titan of the game. I am firmly a believer that they should make Kobe the NBA logo. A Laker legend replacing a Laker legend (Jerry West, who drafted Kobe) as the logo. It would be poetic and a terrific and long-lasting recognition of a player who gave everything he had to the game of basketball.”

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Q: How should we all remember Kobe Bryant moving forward?

Amandeep: “A loving father, teacher, guardian, and student also. The greatest laker to put on a uniform and perhaps the most driven athlete/writer that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

Cole: “Mamba Mentality, we all know it. Its a way of life, a roadmap of a champion. Kobe was the pure embodiment of a champion. Never would he hide from the greatest moments. Even as a young man he would try his best to rise to any occasion. We all know about the air balls. I remember Jerry West said “If somebody would have shot an airball on our team, and shot a second one. They ain’t gonna shoot the third one. He was fearless. I think that’s one of the things that spurred him to greatness, he wasn’t going to allow himself to fail.” And so as he grew as a player, as a man. he no longer had to try, he just did. It just happened. Suddenly a kid who came straight out of high school was a man. and that man was a stone-cold killer, with a glassy stare to boot. I urge anyone reading this to continue his legacy. Any decision you have to make. Ask yourself,
‘What Would Kobe Do?’.”

Christopher: “As an inspiration. Not just as a basketball player, but as a father and a human being. If you apply his work ethic to any task you need to in the future there’s a pretty good chance you will succeed.”

Jonathan: “An easy answer would be to say that he should be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. A person who pushed the game to new heights and who didn’t waste a single ounce of talent he had.

That’s the easy and popular answer.

I prefer to remember Kobe as a family man, as a person who loved his family with his whole heart and who took greater pride in seeing his family happy than he ever did winning any game or award.”

 Q: If you could give Kobe a message right now, what would you say?

Amandeep: “Thank you, Kobe, learning about you and your mindset allowed me to prosper in my own life, I thank you for the years you gave in the purple and gold, and I thank you for becoming a role model in which I can focus on in my industry. You will be forever remembered, we will carry on your legacy. Rest in peace GOAT.”

Cole: “I spoke to him through my medium on Sunday night. If I could speak to him again, writing this 24 hours later. I would tell him “I’ll come to speak to you again soon” and I’d tell him again “Thank You, Love You, Cole.”

Christopher: “Thank you for all the memories and for bringing so much joy to my life. To say you will be missed will be an incredible understatement. Love you Mamba x”

Jonathan: “Thank you, Kobe, for giving me one of the greatest passions in my life. Your ability to push through adversity, injury and overwhelming odds has given so many people hope to push past the difficulties in their life and come out the other side wiser and better people.

You taught people to dream big but you have got to work harder than everyone else in the room for it. Just know that the Lakers community will never forget your name and when my time comes to visit the pearly gates, just know, I got next.”

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