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Local athletes, coaches react to Kobe Bryant's passing

(KFYR)
Published: Jan. 29, 2020 at 4:52 PM CST
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The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has brought great sadness to local athletes, but also lessons on how to live their lives.

"It's sad. He was an inspiration to everyone, and to see someone like that pass really early. It's sad," said Jersey Selzler, Velva guard

"Just shock. I was so surprised, [losing] someone like [that with] such a big legacy. It was insane to me," said Katie Aberle, Surrey guard/forward.

Bryant's career began in 1996, but he's affected the lives of local players that weren't even born until as late as 2002.

"I was younger, and I looked up to him. I tried to play my game like he did, just like every other kid when we were younger. He inspired us a lot, and knowing that he passed away is just hard," said Ryder Holien, Surrey guard.

Bryant's impact expanded past the basketball court.

"Everybody would like to be like him. He was good at everything. [As] an individual person so not even throughout basketball. He was an inspiration and helped everyone," said Maddie Effertz, Velva guard.

"Whatever situation you may be in, go out there and work hard for your dreams.. That's the biggest picture you have to take away from after [you're done playing] basketball. You have to become a man off the court," said Stephane Manzi, Minot State forward.

"He was a hard worker, and what he did for communities is incredible. I think it's a really tragic loss to see someone like that go away. Not only was he a great basketball player, but he was a father... It's just sad to see something like that come out of the blue and have him no longer here with us," said Bransyn Yanish, Velva wrestler.

The tragedy hit close to home for Earnest Bell, who coaches his 11-year-old daughter Lili at his Elite Academy in Minot. Bryant was on his way to his Mamba Academy, where he would be coaching his 13-year-old daughter Gigi, who also perished in the crash.

"It killed me to know he's on that helicopter and she's on there and they're going down. That was a killer for me. I haven't recovered from that yet. Thinking about Lili the whole time... Thinking about parents, dads, moms who put in the extra work for their daughters and their kids as well. That one was a killer for me," said Bell.

The Black Mamba's legacy of dedication to the game and his family will remain long after his passing.

"Love your family and never stop working. Those were the two things that Kobe did tremendously, better than anybody probably in the league ever. It's probably the saddest moment in sports in my lifetime and probably other people's lifetimes too," said Kody Dwyer, Minot State center.

There have been several tributes throughout the NBA, including 8- and 24-second violations after Bryant's numbers with the Lakers, along with number changes and retirements. The league also postponed Tuesday night's Lakers-Clippers game following the tragedy.

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