Kobe Bryant dead at 41: Southern California high school basketball community reacts



Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA champion, and Gianna Bryant, his 13-year old daughter, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, according to numerous reports. He was 41.

Local authorities said nine people were on board the helicopter and no one survived.

The news left an immediate impact on the basketball world and beyond, including players and coaches associated with high school basketball in the state of California.

Members of the Southern California high school basketball community wrote about the influence Bryant had on them and shared it with Scorebook Live. Their responses are below.

Lamont Butler – Riverside Poly PG

“Kobe is my all time favorite basketball player to ever play. He’s the reason I’m a Lakers fan and will always be one. Kobe inspired me to be a great player but also a great person. The things he did off the court were just as noteworthy as his on the court accolades. I’m truly sad and devastated we lost one of the greats and I will continue to work harder to achieve my goals as I know Kobe would do. Prayers up to his family and everyone affected.”



Steve Baik – former Chino Hills and Fairfax head coach

“Kobe had a huge impact beyond basketball. We’re the same age exactly a month apart so I’ve followed his career from high school to the day he retired very closely especially because he played for my hometown team.

His basketball career was second to none as his work ethic and passion for the game was unmatched. The things that he was able to do and the things he accomplished were also unmatched. 

Then for me emotionally, I was tied in with him as he got older and when he retired I too realized that I was ‘older’ and needed to move on to the next chapters of my life as he did so well in his career ventures and as a husband and father. 

I was expecting many great things from him after he retired and felt he was just getting started with his life after basketball. So to lose him now like this seems so unfair. 

Although he passed too soon, he accomplished so much and not only did he inspire generations with his life of excellence, his legacy will continue for a very long time!

Pooh Jeter – professional basketball player and Gardena Serra grad

“He grew up right in front of our eyes. Our city was able to watch every game. Home games on Fox Sports and road games on KCAL channel 9. Glad I was able to play a few games against when I was with the Sacramento Kings and also against him in the Drew League. I learned how to be a student of the game and having that Mamba mentality.”

Nick Herrmann – Torrey Pines PG

“Kobe had a huge impact on all of us in my community. We used to watch all his motivational videos and would hear stories about his work ethic. I always wanted to workout like him, so I would get up at 3 or 3:30 in the morning to try to workout as much as him. His killer mentality and views on life are something me and all my friends try to live our lives by. He’s truly an inspiration and I’m blessed to have grown up learning from him.


Nick Halic – Birmingham head coach

“This has been a tough day for me. It feel like a family member has passed because I was with him on draft day, the 81, the frustrating times before the last two titles and the final championship…. It’s the saddest day I can remember and I’m not sure when basketball will feel the same again.

Kobe had a huge impact on me. I remember watching his final championship in 2010 … going out downtown to celebrate. My office is decorated with images from the post game. I loved his dedication to not only basketball but every aspect of life. When I found out I was having a son I remember being in my office and reading his book Mamba Mentality. Page 26 is about his midnight workouts. He talked about how starting his workouts early helped him balance his family life. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice his game but he also wasn’t willing to sacrifice his family time and so he decided he would sacrifice his sleep.  When his kids woke up he was there.

Everyone wanted to be Kobe when I was in high school I had the fro and everything.”

Leo Hibbert – Fremont assistant coach

Kobe had such an impact on my life showing me the value in competing, having courage, confidence and believing in your abilities. Being a winner in everything I put myself into was instilled in me by Kobe. Giving hope to kids like myself that we can be winners and be the best if we prepare and DON’T QUIT.”

Reuben Williams – former Long Beach Poly player and current Cal State Fullerton team manager

“Kobe had a huge impact on me and every basketball lover. When I was growing up he was the player that made me fall in love with the game as I got older he made me more of a competitor because he set the bar of what a true competitor is.”

Steve Moore – former Harvard-Westlake assistant

Peyton Watson – Long Beach Poly forward

“Kobe meant everything to me. The respect people had for him as a player and person was always crazy to me. You could just tell in the way he walked that he was a great. He had a swagger about him that was so different. He was an extremely serious person and he made it cool to be the one who took little things seriously, just like he made it cool to work hard and be yourself no matter what.

His passion for the game and will to win was inspiring to so many and it’s crazy how much of an impact he had on the people who had never even met him. His death brought the whole world to a halt. The craziest thing about this entire situation is that I woke up shaking yesterday…without even knowing yet that he had died, I could just feel something was up. Then I went on Twitter and saw the reports. My heart dropped.”



Joe Wyatt – El Camino Real head coach

“Kobe made me want to be dedicated to the game of basketball. Getting up early in the morning to practice, playing when you were injured and not to make excuses. And the game is not same with all these players shooting 3 pointers. He really perfected the mid range game. Not enough young players shoot the mid range shot anymore. Kobe was great at that.”

Ethan Anderson – USC PG and former Fairfax star

“As basketball player and as a person Kobe Bryant has done things I can only dream of doing. He is truly legendary in every way and he understood the impact he had. Kobe fan or not you had to respect him. The way he chased his dreams with every part of himself inspired not only me but every human being who also dreamed of accomplishing something. There will never be another Kobe Bryant, his mamba mentality echoes across the world and will influence people forever. The most inspiring thing about Kobe to me is that he is able to change lives for the better without even having to say a word to them. His actions did all the talking. May he rest in power and I want to thank him all he has done for the game of basketball. The name and legacy of Kobe Bryant deserves to be held with the upmost respect and I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to watch him work.”

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