MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Whether you’re a die-hard sports fanatic or not, you’ve witnessed or felt the great loss of Kobe Bryant, Black Mamba. He was known as a fierce competitor who fans dearly loved.
“Emotions just hit instantly,” said basketball sports fan Brandon Bumgarner. “I grew up watching basketball from Kobe Bryant. He is basketball to me.”
It was news that stunned both the basketball sphere and the general public Sunday, that a man adored for his drive and talent on the court –and character off it– was gone. A federal investigator says the pilot of the helicopter that crashed outside Los Angeles, killing Kobe Bryant and eight others, requested special permission to fly through heavy fog. Federal investigators say the radar spotted the craft at about 2,300 feet before began making a left descending turn.
“We’re going to miss his work ethic,” said Bumgarner. “Nobody worked harder than him.”
Several fans in Memphis have mourned the death of Kobe Bryant on social media. Bryant retired in 2016. His last game in Memphis was that year against the Memphis Grizzlies. His 13-year-old daughter, GiGi, expressed her desire to carry on his legacy and love for basketball. Kobe recounted in a television interview she was more than up to the task.
“Fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me and be like ‘hey you got to have a boy, you and V got to have a boy.’ Got to have some body carry on the tradition the legacy,” shared Bryant. “She’s like ‘oi, I got this.'”
“I want to cherish my family the way he cherished his,” said Bumgarner. “He had four beautiful daughters, three of them are going to have to grow up without a father.”
Bumgarner recalled getting the chance to meet the star before a game in Memphis.
“Kobe said, ‘yeah come here.’ Put his arm around me, took a picture. He took the time out of his day. Even if it was 30 seconds, it’s 30 seconds I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Bumgarner is known as a super sports fan, attending all Tigers games and every Grizzlies game he can get to.
“I’m in my Kobe year,” exclaimed the 24-year-old.
Like millions of kids, the Memphian grew up watching Kobe fiercely play and says the impact he leaves behind is sweeping.
“Something I’ll never forget,” Bumgarner shared. “Wish never happened. But these things happen. When God calls us, He calls us and it’s time to go.”
The NBA announced the Lakers and Clippers game originally set for Tuesday is now postponed.