BOSTON (CBS) — The sudden death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant sent a wave of disbelief through the basketball community across the country.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was 41.
“It didn’t feel real. Even right now, it doesn’t feel real,” said Ismani Cepeta. “When my teammate told me that he had passed away, it was almost like a superhero died. I looked up to him. I idolized my game to Kobe Bryant.”
The Fenway High School boys basketball team suffered a tough loss on the court, then learned the tragic news Sunday.
“It was just a shocker to me. Kobe Bryant, he was like a role model to me,” said Jahya Francis.
The young athletes told WBZ-TV they grew up watching the long-time Laker, studying his technique.
Jahya explained, “He played so specifically and I just wanted to watch every little thing he did so I could model it on the court in the way I played.”
There was a sentiment of respect across the board.
“This is bigger than basketball. The man passed in such a tragic way. He’s respected by a lot of people,” Jahya said.
KJ Green stood outside T.D. Garden with a “RIP Kobe” sign. “I grew up hating Kobe Bryant like I’m from Boston I automatically hated Kobe Bryant. However, I respect this man for all he did on the basketball court,” Green said.