Amador students mourn Kobe Bryant’s death

Mark Lester, Bernard Abousleiman, and Cun-yu Chen, Staff Writers

This Sunday morning, Amador Valley, California, and the entire sports world lost one of its most admired and revered figures in former Los Angeles Laker and basketball legend Kobe Bryant. At 41 years old, he and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, perished in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles. There were no survivors in the accident.

Bryant was considered an incredibly hardworking, dedicated, and passionate basketball player by his peers, and was an influential worldwide ambassador of the game in retirement. Throughout his 20-year career as a shooting guard for the Lakers, Bryant won an MVP award, two NBA Finals MVPs, two gold medals in the Olympics with the United States national team, appeared in the NBA All-Star Game 18 times, and led the Lakers to 5 NBA Titles.

The two jersey numbers he wore during his career, #8 and #24, were both retired by the Lakers in 2017. He is expected to enter the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

“I was extremely shocked. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the news. He embodied my dream growing up to become a great sports player and always motivated me to be the person that ‘can,’” said Sahan Suggala (‘20)

Several NBA games were played immediately following Kobe’s death. Players were seen openly weeping on the bench. The Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, was lit in Lakers purple and gold. 

Teams traded 24 second shot-clock violations and 8-second backcourt violations in honor of Bryant’s #8 and #24. Many players honored Kobe by changing their jersey number to #8 and #24.

Vigils were held all over Los Angeles in memory of the fallen superstar, and thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center, the Lakers home arena, to mourn. Among those mourning the tragedy was Lakers point guard and former Golden State Warrior Quinn Cook, who was seen standing outside the arena, weeping, Kobe jersey in hand. 

Amador Valley students who watched the universal sports icon play were also hit hard by the news.

“I was very sad and emotional. Kobe was the reason I started playing basketball,” said Tanner McMillen (‘21)

His work on and off the court inspired Amador students and basketball fans all over the world to work hard and strive for greatness.

“…he proved that if you work really hard towards something, if you have a strong work ethic and determination, you really could accomplish anything,” said former Amador basketball player Simarpal Singh (‘21). 

Amador student-athletes can learn a lot by trying to imitate Kobe’s work ethic and drive.

He came from nothing, nobody thought he’d make it but he worked really hard. He was always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. He’s keep working even if he was hurt, and he’d show you that he was the best. He had such a good work ethic, it motivated me and every part of my life to just do better in everything,” said Singh.

Kobe has inspired millions of people in his dedication to the game and his constant determination, and we expect to feel the loss of Kobe for years to come.